Two Years Removed from Having No Varsity Team, Calvary Christian Baseball Rebounds
Calvary Christian baseball had fallen on hard times. After recording a winning season in 2011, some staff moved on from the school, leaving the program bare. In 2013, the school was unable to field a varsity team.
Last fall, however, the school hired Donald Scheid to take over their baseball program and he has big plans for its future. This season, not only will the Cougars field a varsity team, they also have enough players to field a freshmen team as well.
“To have the numbers to not only have a varsity program, but to have the numbers for more than one level of baseball is a pretty big thing for the school,” Scheid said.
Before taking over the head coaching job at Calvary Christian, Scheid spent three years as an assistant coach at Bellevue High School. He knows that the going will be slow at first. The Cougars are very young with players on the varsity level that are still in seventh and eighth grade, but the thinking is that developing these youngsters now will make the team increasingly more competitive as they age.
“Our numbers are a little bit lower than we'd like. We're holding steady at about 17 kids, but it is enough and there is enough interest in our younger groups, our middle-schoolers. We're going to play a handful of freshman games and a full varsity schedule. We're going to continue to improve and work on the fundamentals, and that's going to help our program going forward,” Scheid said.
The Cougars may have up to four or five starters that are freshmen or younger in the 2015 season, but Scheid said that with their youth comes more excitement around the team and that it has been infectious to those around the school.
“The excitement goes well beyond our players,” he said. “It's in the administrators of the school, the staff and even the community. We have awesome parents and we have a lot of people who are tremendous in their faith with God and it has definitely spilled over to the baseball field where we have that sense of dedication with the things that we believe in and are important to us.”
Putting God first is paramount on the South Covington campus and for the baseball team, and Coach Scheid talked about how important it is that his team understand the mission statement of the program's spiritual beliefs.
“Calvary Christian schools have a mission statement that's pretty simple and it says above all else, glorify God which is exactly what we're trying to do with each step. Although we want to grow as an athletic program, we are being cognizant of keeping God in mind and honoring him in each step that we make.”
On the baseball side of things, though, the Cougars play in a tough district with Scott, Campbell County, Silver Grove and Bishop Brossart. It will likely be a huge adjustment for the team's younger players to compete against much older and further developed players of their district, but Scheid and his staff only want to see steps of growth for now before the expectations grow to win many meaningful games.
“We want to come out and play fundamentally and we know if we play within ourselves, that we can compete a little better than we have in the past. Quite honestly, going forward, with as many talented freshmen as we have right now, in three or four years, we have the ability to not only compete but become a true challenger within our district. Our expectations definitely increase as we move forward, that's without a doubt. We want to take a positive step each year.”
Shedding the challenges of the past has been a challenge for Scheid as he works to change the culture around his team and program.
“We've continued to talk about the next step forward and not looking at the past. When I took over the job, our players had a real notion about coming up and talking to me about things in the past, and sometimes even referencing that lack of success. They didn't lack confidence, but we would talk about all the things that we couldn't do. Going forward with one thing that we've tried to change was us looking at all the things we can do. Recognizing the things we can do although we're extremely young is what makes our team unique."
Yet the experience his team will gain throughout the season is almost more important than winning right away for a such thorough rebuilding of a baseball program. Nothing simulates the practice necessary to improve like real game action and that will only come with time for the Cougars. Scheid also hopes that the fun the kids have playing baseball this year against top competition will get other kids to follow in the same footsteps and someday join the varsity team as they enter into high school.
“This year we were a little hesitant to have seventh and eighth-graders come out and play on the varsity playing field against juniors and seniors. When they play us this year, even though it's only a handful of games, it can only spur that going forward,” Scheid said. “There will be more kids willing to be involved and play more on their level. Obviously, when we play other freshman teams, our seventh and eighth-graders are still going to be a little young, but not quite as young as they would be on the varsity level. We have a ton of freshmen on our roster, and this is going to allow them to get in some in-game action and get those really meaningful reps at game speed.”
Written by Bryan Burke, associate editor
Photo via Calvary Christian