There are still several weeks before the temperatures warm, the snow has melted away & ball fields across the Red River Valley are active again. Basketball has yet to be concluded but I think that it's time to start looking toward the next set of seasons. So take a few minutes to hear from the coaches that were gracious enough to answer my questions!
The first coach who was kind enough to take some time & answer my questions was West Fargo Sheyenne's Ryan Bodell. In his first year as the head coach for the Mustangs, it will be a bit of a new start for their program.
Thank you for the time & information coach Bodell!
The first thing I'm curious about is if there is a memory or two that really stands out as the highlight(s) for you and your players?
"One highlight for me was how the players responded to a tough year for our program last year. I was gone for my new baby for a week late in April and during that time Coach Swanson was placed on leave for the rest of the year. I am proud of how our team responded and still played hard through all the tough times."
"Another highlight would be Chandler Buchert making the All-EDC team. He was a senior that worked hard throughout his career to become a better player and he put it all together for his senior season."
If you could go back & change a play or moment from last season what would it be and what would you have go differently?
"One play that I would change is a play in the EDC Tournament against Central. It was a infield pop-up and I held a player at 3rd base not realizing how high the ball really was. I think we could have scored a run on that play and who knows what the outcome could have been."
Not specific to last year but in general, is there a particular team, a rival, that your players enjoy competing against, whether they win or lose?
"I think our players always enjoy playing against West Fargo. Since they play together during the summer they all know each other and it gives the winning team some bragging rights for the summer."
As for you, is there a team that you most enjoy coaching against?
"This will be my first year as the head coach so I don’t really have a favorite team to coach against. This year will be different since I've moved up from being an assistant so I may develop a favorite team, but for right now I don’t have one."
How do you plan on building upon what you taught your returning players last season?
"Our athletes have had success before so I hope to continue that success with our program. We are returning quite a few of our players so I hope to build upon how we finished last year. We really tried to harp on thinking ahead. Baseball is a sport where you have to know where to go before it happens in so many different circumstances so we need to think ahead and be ready at all times. We’re also going to talk to the players about playing with HEART (Honor, Effort, Attitude, Respect, and Teamwork). I am a firm believer that if we play the game the right way and honor the game of baseball, good things will happen."
Beyond the every team goal of a state championship, what do you hope to accomplish this season? I know it's several months off, but are there any goals that you & your players have in mind that you would be willing to share?
"Obviously I think everyone’s goal is an EDC championship and a state championship, but my personal goal is to be playing our best baseball at the end of the season. If we do that, we should have a good shot at both previous goals."
Now just thinking about the roster that you will have, who will need to step up to replace players that moved on?
"Coming off a disappointing finish last year, I think we all need to step up. We are returning quite a few players so I will look at all of our players to build on last year."
As things stand today, is there a certain aspect of the game that you think will be the strength of your team come the first practice or game?
"I think our fielding will probably be the best aspect of our team, with hitting being a close second. We will need to find pitching. We lost two of our main pitchers from last year and will need to replace them consistently to be a good team. I feel like we have many guys that can be pitchers, but we need some guys to step up and be our top of rotation guys."
Are there any players that have already shown you that they will be leaders both on and off the field?
"Caden Jastram, Carter Dodd, Ryan Reynolds, and Alex Urlaub have been a part of the varsity team for a couple years now, so I expect them to step up and be our leaders."