Lincolnshire baseball spotlight: Coach Rosland and the Lincolnshire 9U team

This week’s Lincolnshire baseball spotlight features Head Coach Mark Rosland and his Lincolnshire 9U travel team.

Q. How did you first become involved in the Lincolnshire travel baseball team?

A. My family and I had just moved to Lincolnshire about 2 years ago and I was coaching my son’s house basketball team when I learned about the travel team for 8 year olds. My son made it onto the team and the head coach at the time (Dan Pinsel) asked if I would like to be an assistant coach. So I was an assistant coach for last year’s team. Dan then took a new job this year that required a lot of travel during the week and that would unfortunately make it impossible for him to remain the head coach again for this year’s 9 year old team. He asked if we could switch roles so that he would be an assistant coach and I would take over as the head coach of this year’s 9 year old team.

Q. How did your first game go?

A. Our first game this year was in a local tournament and we lost the game by 1 run to host team on their home field. The boys played great, had a lot of fun, and gained some great experience that has really carried over into league play so far this year.

Q. What is your favorite thing about your team?

A. Our team is filled with a lot of talented players this year, but my favorite thing about our team is immediately after each game we have a short player/coach meeting. During this meeting each coach will say a few words about the game highlighting things that went well and some areas we will be working on in future games and practices. Once that is finished, the players also take a turn recounting great plays in the game and also things they think we need to work on. They are really observant and accurate in what they bring up and to be able to do that at 9 years old is really a neat thing to watch.

Q. What is most difficult and what is most rewarding about coaching?

A. Like any parent will tell you, the hardest part to working with boys this age is getting them to focus when you’re having a discussion with them. Even more so in a group setting of 12 boys. The most rewarding thing has been to see not only the physical but also the mental development they’ve made from last year to this year.

Q. What have you learned about yourself as a coach, and about your team as a whole?

A. I’ve learned that one approach to coaching will not work with each of the boys. That’s why it’s been so helpful to be around most of the boys for a second year. This has given the coaches time to learn the best way to connect with each boy individually and also to judge the best way to handle the group collectively. I believe this has been one of the reasons we are having such a fun and successful season thus far.

Q. How would you describe the team?

A. This team has proven to be very talented and is quite focused on playing well during the games. The team is also filled with a unique group of characters that like to have fun together both on and off the field.

Q. What are you most proud of as a coach?

A. Multiple times this year our team has been complimented by the umpire after a game for not only how well they played, but more importantly to me and the rest of our coaches, on how they handled themselves with the umpire and the sportsmanship they displayed towards the other team during and after the game. To receive this unbiased feedback from someone who interacts with lots of teams, has made me the most proud.

Q. How did the kids react to the new dugout covers, scoreboards, and home run fences?

A. All three were a huge hit with our team. The dugout covers are really a welcome addition knowing how hot it can be during our summer schedule. It was a real surprise to me how into the scoreboards the team would be. So big a hit are the scoreboards, that a lot of our boys came to the tournament Lincolnshire just hosted when we weren’t playing our games so they could sit out there and keep score for the other games. And the homerun fences are also a great addition. We’ve had a few go over the fence in practice but have yet to hit one out during the game. Overall each of these improvements has just added to the great facilities we enjoy at North Park.

Q. What are your goals for the current season?

A. The main goals for the team coming into the season were to get the boys to play competitive baseball while having fun and displaying excellent sportsmanship. Secondary goals were to get each of the boys mentally prepared for the positions they were to be playing this season and really up our baseball IQ for the various situations that come up throughout a game. We want to be a smart playing team.

Q. Is there a professional athlete or coach that you look up to?

A. The late Jim Valvano is the coach I look up to the most not only for his coaching success but for the special impact he’s had on coaches and people from other walks of life. I’d highly encourage people to watch his ESPY Speech and also the ESPN 30 for 30 episode on him called “Survive and Advance”. He was a truly inspirational person.

Q. What is the best memory you have so far?

A. Last week we ended up winning the 9U Championship in the Inaugural Lincolnshire Summer Slam Tournament. That was a real thrill for our team to win our own tournament. Imbedded into the tournament win was a semi-final game victory in which we had 3 pitchers combine to throw a perfect game through 5 innings…15 batters faced and 15 batters out. To have our pitchers strike out 10 with no walks and our fielders make the other 5 put outs with no errors was really remarkable. I’ve talked to a lot of coaches since then and no one can recall seeing a perfect game, let alone from a 9 year old team.

Q. Do you have anything else to add?

A. I want to thank our other assistant coaches (Dan Pinsel, Rocco Morelli, and Fik Durmas) for all of their time and hard work with the boys this year. We are truly coaching by committee and those guys do a great job. Our parents have also been great this year and it has been a lot of fun getting to work with their boys. It’s a major commitment as a parent to have a son on the travel team. Finally I want to thank Lee Fell who is the Lincolnshire Travel Baseball Commissioner and all the others at LSA for their major efforts. When you’re a head coach you get to see how some of the other communities run their programs. Lee and LSA are extremely well organized and the facilities we get to use are top notch, and the Village has done a great job maintaining the fields.

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