Saturday, July 20, 2019 - by John Ashley, Travis Flenniken, Robert Kulisek, and T. W. Francescon
12 Gifted Baseball Players . . . Babe Ruth said, “The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don't play together, the club won't be worth a dime."
In May of 2019, 12 10-year-old baseball players were selected to serve on the Signal Mountain All Star Team. Each is a gifted baseball player but it took each of them having the humility and the confidence to learn new teammates, new coaches, and, for those who had never been on an all-star team, a new level of competition.
1 Team of “Brothers” . . . The movie, Miracle, about the 1980 United States Hockey Team, has a quote that captures one of our goals for this team, “When you pull on that jersey, you represent yourself and your teammates. And the name on the front is a lot more important than the one on the back!” This team of young men worked hard to practice and learn new positions, support and encourage each other, all while having some fun in the process.
A Supportive Community . . . This team of 12 received unbelievable support from 24 parents, 17 siblings, and countless grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends throughout the season, from showing up at practices and games to driving all over the Chattanooga area for tournaments, to supporting them at the State Tournament in Sweetwater, TN. We are fortunate to have had such incredible support! From May to July, these 12 young men won 27 games (lost 6), scored 307 runs (gave up 123), played in 7 tournaments, winning the Hixson, Rivermont, Sub-District, and District tournaments, and came in 3rd place (out of 16 teams) in the Dixie Youth State Tournament in Sweetwater, TN.
Beyond the numbers and statistics, what’s more important than win-loss records are the comments we heard from umpires, opposing coaches, parents, and players about the sportsmanship, leadership, integrity, and teamwork these 12 have consistently demonstrated. At the State Tournament, we were told by an opposing coach that one of his players said, “If we have to lose, I’d rather lose to a team like Signal Mountain. Those boys are classy players.”
Reflecting back over 33 games, here are some of the highlights and memories, on and off the baseball field:
Bear Barker pitched an impressive no-hitter for the win in the Sub-District championship game. Always focused, Bear never allowed a bad play or loss to distract him from playing his very best.
Charlie Dart had two nice doubles and an excellent catch in the East Ridge tournament. Whether winning or losing, Charlie is steady and the first one to encourage his teammates.
Chance Garvich had several hits and a diving catch to save Bear’s no hitter in the Sub-District. He persevered, putting in more work outside of practice than anyone else to support the team.
Jack Hurst pitched and got the save during the Hixson championship game. He has a great sense of humor and does a good job brushing off mistakes and supporting his teammates.
Henry Kelle made some key plays at home to send us to the championship game during the Hixson tournament. He’s always smiling and has a great “team” attitude, never bringing attention to himself.
Samuel Pittman had two huge hits, some RBI’s, and scored two runs during the District championship game. He willingly played and supported the team wherever he was needed most.
Mitchell Rodwell did a great job catching, including picking off a few runners trying to steal in the East Brainerd tournament. He has an excellent attitude, always hustles, and never complains.
Rowan Thomas had two nice hits, an RBI, and scored two runs in the District championship game. Rowan is always ready to play, consistently working hard to support the team without bringing attention to himself.
Andrew Ashley did an excellent job pitching in the East Ridge tournament while batting .700. He was a leader on the team with his positive attitude and always being one of the first to pump up the team.
Wil Flenniken hit three home runs and a triple during the Hixson tournament. He is team-focused and served as our utility player, playing more positions than anyone else on the team.
Reagan Kulisek pitched a 1-hit shutout to push us to the District championship game. He demonstrates servant leadership with a positive attitude and a strong work ethic.
Noah Francescon batted 1.000 (9 for 9) during the District tournament. He’s a quiet leader, steady, and focused as he seeks to support the team without much fanfare.
We’re thankful for the opportunity to have watched these 12 individually gifted baseball players come together as a team of “brothers” to play a game they love, with the powerful support of their community.
To the Signal Mountain 10-Year-Old All Star Team, thank you for representing your families and community with honor and respect. It has been such a privilege to have served as your coaches and encouragers. Each of you are All Stars, on and off the baseball field.