Pathways, not premierships, is the top priority for the Newport Rams Baseball Club’s junior section.
The Rams are focused on player retention, first and foremost, and if they get that element right, the individual and team success will follow.
“We don’t care how many junior premierships we win, we’re not focused on how many junior state representatives or if superstars come out of it, our real aim is growth and retention,” Rams president Ben Portelli said.
“If everyone who played last year comes back this year and half of them bring a friend, we’re going to grow exponentially and then the results will come, the premierships will happen and the cream will rise to the top.”
The pathways open to baseballers is a major drawcard.
Three of Newport’s rising young stars – Holly Howard, Tyler Comben and Zac Gorman – have all enjoyed different life experiences through baseball.
Howard, an infielder showing a lot of promise, was part of a Victorian development squad that travelled to Japan as part of an exchange program.
Comben, a pitcher/utility, is in the process of securing a visa to the United States to play college baseball in North Dakota.
Gorman, a catcher, travelled to the US as part of a Victorian under-age team that played baseball at what Portelli called “the Mecca of baseball”.
“We just want to give everyone the best baseball experience,” Portelli said.
“For some kids, that will be hitting a curve ball for the first time, for other kids it will be signing with a college or signing professionally.
“What we want to display is that there’s a pathway to get overseas, to study and travel and experience other parts of the world.”
Newport will hold its second come and try baseball day at K.C. White Reserve in Williamstown North on September 10 from 9.30am, which is open to all ages.
The Rams will hold a clinic for the kids, a free barbecue and a tour of the facilities, including their new indoor training centre.
More than 80 juniors turned up to the first come and try day on Sunday.
“It’s not a tryout as such where people don’t make the team, it’s come down, have a hit and see how you go,” Portelli said.
“If we can tip as many kids into the bottom ages of the junior program and show them a good time while they’re there, we’ll be in pretty good hands going forward.”