Boys Baseball starts a new era with new coaches and young players

Jonathan Smith is stepping into the coaching position this year. After decades of heading up the boy’s baseball team, Rich Warren retired. With the vacancy, a few baseball players mentioned to Smith they thought he might be a good fit.

He coached a number of middle school teams, including football, basketball and baseball.

Baseball is one of his favorites, as it was one of the sports he grew up with.

The team is 23 players strong. Many are young, with eight are freshmen. Despite the weather, the boys have been excited about the season and motivated to play their best. With what he is seeing from the students so far, Smith said, the future looks bright.

Smith is disappointed, however, that two seasoned players, Chris Gustafson and Peirce Klien both became injured during basketball so they are not able to join the fun. However, Gustafson has taken it upon himself to mentor the younger players.

As far as goals for the season, Smith explained that while the coaches are the facilitators, it’s the players who own the team.

“I want players to have ownership and buy into the team,” he said.

One challenge for the season might be turnover in the coaching staff. “Anytime there is new coaching it can be challenging. Fortunately, Justin Nibbler is still with us and will keep some continuity,” Smith acknowledged.

Of the teams he sees as the biggest competition, Orcas is always up there, and Coupeville has a great ball pen as well.

While winning is nice, Smith is more focused on honing the talents of these young athletes and guiding them to grow into the best versions of themselves. “If we win, that’s just a nice by-product,” he added. “I’m just excited about getting out there and seeing what these boys can do.”

Their first game will be on March 9 at South Whidbey High. Their first home game is March 16 at noon in the Linde Fields.