Wildcats form new baseball team
February 22, 2008
In an interesting twist on "If you build it, they will come," South Summit High School is building a baseball team that they hope will flourish in years to come.
This isn’t a brand new team for the Wildcats. Up until three years ago, the high school fielded a baseball team but then a lack of numbers drove it away said South Summit High school athletic director Troy Coil.
Prior to this season, a handful of concerned parents and students decided that three years without a team was enough, so they asked both the high school and the South Summit school board to reconsider. That push was enough and soon the high school approached South Summit Aquatic and Fitness Center director Steve Sutherland to head up the new squad.
Sutherland, who has coached at Sky View High School and on various Little League squads, was thrilled by the opportunity and has been working to get a team together ever since. Sutherland will be joined by assistant coaches Coil and Kamas resident Joe Santos. Sutherland has been holding preliminary meetings the last few weeks and estimates that about 30 boys are interested in playing baseball.
But just because the team is new and the numbers are small doesn’t mean that the Wildcats will have nothing to work with this season. Sutherland said that most of his prospective players are young, but very talented. Over the summer, he worked with many of them on a summer league team in Salt Lake. During the early part of the summer, the boys lost a lot, but Sutherland said that by the second half of the summer, the boys were winning or losing by one point.
"The improvement level was there," Sutherland said.
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He suspects that in general they will be working on the athletic aspects of the game, but says the knowledge and positive mental attitude is already there.
"They’ve been really excited," Sutherland said. "We’re pretty optimistic. We think we have a lot of talent and are ready to get on the field and play games."
But even with all of the enthusiasm and interest, the inaugural year for the team will not be without a number of obstacles.
The biggest challenge will be the same one that besets the other baseball teams in the county where to practice?
With snow collapsing two South Summit School District gymnasiums, the situation is even more complicated. Sutherland hopes to use gyms around the county and even use parking lots once the snow melts.
The next issue is time. Tryouts will be held Monday and then the Wildcats only have until March 5 before their first preseason game. Sutherland estimates he will have only a few days to make selections, cover team rules and the fundamentals and then just a week to assemble practices that will get the team game ready.
The preseason will start with a game against Manti, followed by a tournament that first weekend in Richfield. It will be a bit of a baptism by fire for the Wildcats, as Richfield, along with Gunnison are the two powerhouses in the 2A division in the state. South Summit will settle into a Region 14 schedule, which will include tough games with Juab and the American Leadership Academy. The team plays an exhausting 22 games in a two-month span.
The Wildcats won’t host their first contest until April Fool’s Day and Sutherland hopes the month-long wait will give the snow enough time to melt off of the field.
On top of everything else, the team also needs to raise some quick money to help off-set equipment costs. The three-year hiatus left the team with outdated helmets and other gear. The school invested a lot to get the team up to national standards but the Wildcats are planning a community dinner and auction to help refill the coffers. The event will be held Feb. 29 at South Summit High School with dinner at 6 p.m. followed by a live auction at 7:30. The cost is a reasonable $5 and Sutherland hopes that Kamas and all of the surrounding areas will come out to help the fledgling team get off the ground.