November 29, 2012 by TJ Jorgensen
The 2012 season was another big year for Street Kids Softball: another ASA state title, a 117-31 overall record, 12 tournament wins, another finals appearance in the NSA B World Series and the season was capped off with the GSL B World Series championship in Ohio. But like every season, there are always opportunities for players to change teams, and every year the SKS team is competing with other teams to secure the best talent on the field. As we head into the banquet weekend at the Tilted Kilt, and after some recent moves, I believe the SKS team is in line for a big 2013 season.
Six players from the Wildman Uniform/Kote It team out of Fort Wayne will be joining the SKS team in 2013, along with head coach Matt Sheehan - who has ran the Wildman team for the last several years - and sponsor/coach Bob Hamilton (Kote-It). Sheehan will step into the same head coaching role with the new Street Kids/Wildman team for 2013, with Hamilton and longtime SKS coach JR Shapiro assisting as well. I will continue my role as the owner of the team, obviously, and continue to coach and assist Sheehan too.
Many people have heard about this happening for a while, and the deal was reached a few weeks back, but we needed to iron out some minor details, which we did when Sheehan, Hamilton and myself met in Warsaw a couple of weeks ago.
"I have been around this game for a long time and this may be one of the best teams I will ever coach," said Sheehan on Thursday. "I look forward to being a part of a team that I have so much respect for; a team that wins the right way and treats other teams the way they want to be treated. Well, other then Joe (Horvath), but Joe will be Joe.. LOL! Seriously though, Joe is the best hitter in the state in my oppinion and look forward to being on the same team with him again."
Terry Patesel played a key role in this deal happening, as he met with Sheehan initially to discuss the idea. I had asked Terry to step up this off season and perhaps into next year as my professional schedule has taken more of my personal time. The only thing I told Terry was that my number one goal was to bring the team back, and whatever else he could put together in order to make that happen, that he had my full authority and trust.
"We know that every year teams are always coming after our guys, especially the Amish," Patesel said. "So we wanted to first see what needed to be done to make that happen. After we addressed the issues, we went to work. We reached a tentative deal, but as I told TJ from the beginning, this is his baby. He spent most of his adult life with the Street Kids organization (joined in 1996) and he built it to what it is today, including the development and implementation of not only the website, but Street Kids Care as well. Once he and Matt got together to finalize it, the deal was done. I am just glad that not only do we bring back a championship team, but we strengthen ourselves with the addition of some great players."
While the majority of the team will return, one of the top players not only on the team but in the region will be moving on to the USSSA conference full time in 2013. Faron Miller, who won the SKS Gold Glove award in 2011, has accepted the offer to return to LineDrive. Miller, beloved by his teammates and especially his Amish friends, had nothing but praise for his team of the last two years.
"I called TJ several weeks ago to let him know that I would be going to LineDrive full time next year," said the 6'6" pitcher. "But I made it clear to him how much I respected him as a teammate and coach, as well as all of the guys on the team. SKS is a wonderful group, and I will miss running a full schedule with them, but I am confident they will have another huge season in 2013."
Faron will still play part time with SKS, including remaining on the NSA roster, and perhaps on other association rosters also, depending on what LineDrive does. He will also remain with the team for league play.
One of the most obvious things we had to address this offseason was replacing one of the best pitchers around. That was one of the reasons why the Wildman deal was so important. Chad "Cat" Marchand, who has pitched for Wildman for the last nine years and led them to the NSA "A" World title in 2011, will be a key pick up for 2013. Prior to Wildman, he pitched for two years with Aqua Blast where he was the B world MVP. Marchand, who is coming off knee surgery after sustaining an injury in Valporaiso in June, is excited to join Street Kids.
"I'm very excited to see our two teams combine into what I feel will be one of the top teams in the country," said the 2011 NSA A Worlds MVP. "After one of the most disappointing seasons of my career in 2012, nothing will make me happier than to get back on the field in 2013 with my new teammates and begin our journey towards another ring. We have a great group of guys and it should be a lot of fun this year and like the old saying goes, if you can't beat'em join'em!"
Along with Marchand, the team will also be welcoming the following players from last years Wildman team: Newell Phebus, John Krider, Todd Mase, Joe Peele and Erik Falcone. Phebus, who SKS made a strong attempt to get this time last year but elected to join Wildman, thinks this was the best decision for him and the guys.
"I think its the best decision for our team," said Phebus, who was among the leaders in hitting with Wildman in hitting in 2012 and prior to Wildman, won the ASA C state title with Martin Brothers. "Everyone knows the struggles we had in 2012. I don't believe we could have put together a team of this quality outside of SKS to compete in Indiana or at the national level. I feel like with this team, we can be successful in any association (NSA, ASA, USSSA and GSL) at any level. I know our guys are excited about this squad and we can't wait to get on the field."
I am very excited for this team in 2013. I know there are a lot of people wondering who will be playing where, and adding six players to a staff that already had a full team. These are legit questions, but ones that will be figured out in a few months. Right now, we are just working on getting our team ready off the field with uniforms, getting the schedule set, getting guys conditioned in the gym and relaxing at the holidays with our families. The other stuff will sort itself out.
Along with welcoming our new teammates, I also want to welcome new sponsors Wildman Business Group and Kote-It, Inc. Their support in 2013 will be essential in our ability to field a team on the weekends and continue to look good while playing. :) We will continue to bring further updates on how the offseason is going, and continue to watch StreetKidsCare.com for more outreach programs coming up this winter, including the fifth annual SKS Memorial Bowl in January. Until then, Happy Holidays from the new Street Kids/Wildman team, from the Street Kids Care group and from all of us at the Street Kids Softball organization!