Former PCHS star helps youngsters find their groove
When he started working with the group, David Feasler knew what his first step would be.
He had to build. He had to construct an environment in which his players believed they could achieve. He told them it wouldn’t be easy, and in the beginning, it certainly wasn’t.
"For me, all I had to do is convince the kids they were good," he said. "It took time. They lacked confidence and they played without confidence. I’ve been around baseball a long time and I know you have to be confident to be good at this game."
A four-year starter at Park City High School who is now an infielder and pitcher at Occidental College in Los Angeles, Calif., Feasler, 20, was hired by Park City High School head baseball coach Lou Green to lead a group of 15U youngsters in a summer league organized by the Utah Baseball Academy.
Feasler immediately made it a point, as Green so often does, to emphasize that nothing comes easy.
"We have a lot of the same philosophies," he said. "One is working harder than anyone else."
Slowly, but surely, the 15U group began to grasp Feasler’s points. After performing well in its first summer tournament, the team traveled to Davis County and walloped a club team from Syracuse 19-3.
"From then on, we didn’t lose very much," he said. "It’s all them, it’s not me. It was them putting time in on their own. There were days this summer where I told the kids I would do private lessons with them. At times I had eight or nine kids a day showing up. They were buying into what we were doing."
In the league that featured 20 teams, most of which were linked to 4A/5A school programs, Park City went on a tear. The team defeated Juan Diego 9-3 in the semifinal of the end-of-summer tournament.
"That was the highlight of the season," Feasler said with a chuckle.
Unfortunately for Park City, the Cinderella season ended with a thud in a tournament championship loss to Pleasant Grove.
"We played a good team in the championship. It was somewhat bittersweet at the end of the game," Feasler said. "Being the second team in that 20-league team is an accomplishment."
For Green, watching a former Park City High School star return to help the program succeed in the summer was one of the highlights of the year.
"That’s the reason we asked Dave to come and coach," he explained. "He’s a good baseball guy, he’s energetic and he’s enthusiastic. He does have the hard-work mentality we’re trying to incorporate in the program. I can’t say how proud I am of those kids and Feasler as well."
Green said, unlike last summer, he decided to remain in the shadows a bit in 2012, letting assistant coaches take the reins and steer in whatever direction they chose.
"I wanted to let the kids play a little more loose than we have," he said. "I wanted them to get away from me and have time to develop on their own. I’ve still been around watching games, but I’ve tried to stay off the sidelines and give them a break.
"They’ve really, really taken huge steps — maybe two steps — in the right direction. It starts with the kids; as much as a coach can want it and make them better and move them in the right direction, the kids have to be willing to make sacrifices."
Feasler, who is preparing to head back to Los Angeles in late August for his junior year with the Tigers, said the program he grew up playing for is headed in the right direction. He said he was thankful to be a part of it this summer, and he hopes to be back next year.
"I think it just gave them the confidence that they’re going to play a big role in the program, to be successful next year. And in three years forward, some of my guys are going to step in," he said. "I had zero guys with varsity experience. I think next year they have a chance to make some noise."
Green echoed Feasler’s thoughts, saying some youngsters have the ability to crack the varsity level next spring.
"There’s a saying that ‘players win and coaches lose,’ and that’s what my high school coach told me," Green said. "As a coach, you give credit to the kids. It has been great to see those kids grow up baseball-wise."
The roster of Park City’s 15U summer league consisted of Elliot Walton, Noah Mikan, Hayden Rasmuson, Josh Pelegrin, Maverick Berglund, Tanner Whittington, Gates Lamb, Joe Ochoa, Parker Smith, Scott Stokes, JC Pollard, Austin Carfi, Jake Slusher, Drew Castellanos and Sam Starley.
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