Having sports programs, as with any extracurricular activity, is a great way to get young kids involved in situations that will teach them how to win later on in life.
Unfortunately, having enough kids to even field a team is usually a tall task for the smallest schools in Ohio.
That is indeed the case for New Boston, who will not be able to field a baseball program out on the diamonds across Southern Ohio in 2017 due to the lack of numbers within its program.
For New Boston athletic director Jimmy Bailey, it is a tough blow that’s made even tougher considering the fact that he is the head coach of the program and knows his players on a personal level.
“It’s unfortunate,” Bailey said. “We had a few kids that wanted to play, and now, they don’t get that opportunity. We have some equipment left over from some people who donated, and we did a few fundraisers to raise money and fill additional needs within our program. We have the resources necessary to field a program if we can find enough kids that are interested in playing.”
Over the years, the participation in the game of baseball has dropped to a point where the New Boston and Sciotoville communities have had to combine Little League programs in some years just to be able to field teams at that level.
But even with the struggle in numbers, New Boston has maintained a positive outlook on the game, as Bailey said that his kids simply enjoyed having a chance to play and participate in the sport that they loved.
“There’s enough time in the game of baseball, and in the way that it’s played, to soak it all in and appreciate the fact that you are playing a sport that you love,” Bailey said. “Even when we weren’t having the winning seasons that bring joy to a community, we were still able to have fun with the kids and build personal relationships with kids that we won’t forget.”
And the fact that Bailey can’t build those relationships this year is what hurts him the most.
“That’s the main thing that I’m upset about, as far as our kids not getting to play baseball,” Bailey said. “It’s something that’s needed for young kids to build relationships or grow up. Baseball’s a game, but it teaches you that even when you’re successful, you fail. Batting .300 is good in the game of baseball, but it also means that you failed seven out of 10 times. It’s just a great way to correlate life and just learn about the qualities of it.”
Bailey says that example is tried and true in the efforts that the school’s basketball unit made in continuing to play through its own struggles.
Despite losing its final 13 affairs and only going 2-12 in conference play, the athletic director was pleased with the fight that he saw from Scott Jenkins’ unit even in the struggles.
“Look at the basketball team,” Bailey said. “They kept fighting throughout the year, regardless of their record. To know that you have guys who will show up every single day, and will still give a good effort in games and not roll over and quit is excellent. That’s something that you can learn a lot from because it teaches you that even when things aren’t going your way, you still don’t throw the towel in. There’s a lot that one can learn from an array of extracurricular activities, whether it’s sports, or student council, or anything like that.”
While the pace of the game is one that many believe is a detractor, Bailey believes that pace is a positive for the sport as a whole.
“Baseball’s not as fast-paced as a basketball game or some of the other sports that are offered,” Bailey said. “There’s enough downtime where you can have a little bit of fun and cut up, more so than some of the other sports. Those are some of the things that I remember more than the wins or losses, and that’s the kind of stuff that I hope that we can have back again at some point in time.”
Regardless of the circumstances, however, Bailey isn’t giving up.
“We’re not going to stop trying to field a team,” Bailey said. “We’ll try to dress out every single year and we’ll try to help all that we can as the season progresses.”
Reach Kevin Colley at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930 OR on Twitter @ColleyKevin7