The old African proverb "It takes a village to raise a child" could easily be amended to apply to baseball. After all, it takes a city to foster a competitive baseball program.
In Park City, where skiing reigns supreme, building a baseball program wasn't easy. In fact, baseball was largely ignored for a long time.
When Lou Green came to town four years ago, the youth programs in Park City had only 28 players over various age levels. He made it his mission to drastically increase that number.
"Now it's over 100 in the program at the youth level," he said. "It's growing. It's not where we want it to be yet, but it's getting there, slowly but surely."
Indeed, the Park City Avalanche youth program is growing rapidly, something president Frank Lynch attributes to a more competitive high school squad. Last year, the Miners won the Region 10 title and have their sights set on a repeat in 2014.
"Success is an amazing thing," Lynch said. "We don't focus on the winning necessarily, especially in the younger levels, but rather, the development. As you get older, 13 and 14 and into high school, you like to see a little more winning. The more success you have, the more the positive news gets around."
In addition to putting a winning product on the field (the high school Miners are 10-2 as of this printing), the PCHS squad enjoys helping out with the youth program whenever possible.
"We try to get them ready for high school baseball," PCHS senior Blake Morin said. "It's no more just going out to the park to pitch and catch it's go to the park, get some motivation and get ready to go. It's big boy baseball we're trying to teach them to become better players."
Morin, whose brother Parker is a catcher in the Kansas City Royals' farm system, understands the way the youth players look up to the high schoolers.
"It's kind of fun now because all these little kids are always asking you questions about how you're doing and everything," he said. "It's kind of fun to be in that role and be the guy they look up to now.
Green said the high school team tries to keep in touch with the Avalanche squads during the season, not just during offseason clinics.
"We do 10 to 12 youth clinics with these guys and we've been with them since January," he said. "It's really nice to see them get better, see them progress and then go see them play during the spring. Obviously we don't get a big chance to see them play with our schedule as busy as it is, but we try to see every team at least once."
It's important to keep in touch with the youth players, Green says, because they'll one day be suiting up for the high school team.
"We refer to [the youth program] a lot as our farm system," he said. "It's important to me because, for me to be good at my job, [the youth coaches] have to be good at theirs. It's just nice to develop players at an early age and get them excited about baseball."
Green and Lynch both hope that the increasing competitiveness across all age groups and the influence of the high school players leads to more players trying out next season and into the future.
"You want to see teams be competitive," Lynch said. "But my ultimate goal is to have every single one of these kids come back next year, and for them to tell their friends about it. There's no reason to think this program is even close to being done growing."
The PCHS baseball team is scheduled to host its first home games on Tuesday, April 8, with a doubleheader against Uintah. Games start at 2 and 5 p.m.