Trail’s boys and girls of summer don’t have to take the winter off, but can stay competitive thanks to the dedication of Trail Little League baseball coach D. J. Ashman and Trail AM Ford Orioles coach Dave Colquhoun.
Area baseball and softball players can get a jump on the season with regular workouts at the Willi Krause Field House. The coaches meet with a dozen or more players from age 11 to 18 every Wednesday, putting them through fielding and batting practice, while the pitchers enjoy the expert advice of former Philadelphia Phillies pitching prospect Chris Kissock.
“It just gets us ready,” said Ashman. “The Vancouver teams are doing this all year round so if we don’t do this, it just puts us behind the eight ball.”
The Willi Krause facility is replete with a batting cage and pitchers backstop, while the other half of the gym is used for fielding practice.
Trail baseball teams have been very successful over the years, despite a relatively small pool of players. But to maintain that competitive balance, winter training is no longer a luxury, it’s a necessity.
“Andy (Bileski) for 30-40 years would pitch in the elementary school gym,” said Colquhoun. “Back then he pitched all winter and not very many places did that. Now they are going full batting cage, pitching instruction, and all that.”
The weekly pracitces not only helps the players improve and develop, but it also helps them avoid injury when the leagues start up in the spring.
“You don’t have to do it five-days-a-week, and not play hockey and not ski, but you got to do it, a little bit just to keep it,” Colquhoun added. “In March we’ll crank it up to two times a week, so these kids theoretically should be hitting their stride on the very first day of tryout, where most kids will take two or more weeks. ”
Last year’s Trail Little League Allstars shortstop Ross St. Jean, 12, says the practice gets him ready for the upcoming season and keeps him sharp.
“Last year we worked on him (St. Jean) pulling the ball, and now you see him today, because he’s moving up to Babe Ruth, swinging a big-barrel bat, and he’s quicker even now,” said Ashman. “We’re working on the fine points, and whatever else they want to work on.”
The group starts in September and goes until the end of March when they move outside, weather permitting. If any baseball or fastball players are interested in attending call Dave or D.J. The workouts go Wednesday at the Field House starting at 4:30 p.m.