GUERNSEY – In the spirit of the recent Olympic games in Tokyo, Guernsey Braves head coach Gordon Noggle hosted his long-standing tradition called the Baseball Olympics.
“The baseball Olympics has been a long-standing tradition Coach Gordon puts on every year he coaches,” said Danielle Noggle. “The team practices the events throughout the summer so they can showcase their skills at the end of the season.”
Events include farthest throw, best pitcher, pop fly catching, base running, bat balance, home run derby and then finally the decathlon (which includes a timed obstacle course).
“Joey ‘Big Joe’ Lewis cleaned house bringing home first place trophies in the home run derby, pitching and pop fly catching,” she said. “Blake Gardner and Ryker McConahay battled back and forth in a few events. Each player took home some hardware.”
The night and season always end with a parent versus player game and pizza.
“We are always so happy to see a turnout like this for kids that love the game and their home team,” said Noggle. “Go Braves!”
This is Noggle’s 10th season coaching Little League and he has made it a part of his family and all the Noggles are represented, whether it’s setting out equipment, keeping the scorebook, organizing schedules or bringing snacks.
Noggle’s wife, Danielle, who keeps the book and master schedule, makes sure her family’s uniforms are clean and ready to go is just a part of the Noggle Little League family experience.
It’s inspiring to watch my husband year after year build skills with these teams,” she said. “Both of our boys have benefited from having a coaching dad, and that just means the coaching doesn’t stop when you leave the field. It’s not always dingers and sunshine but the kids take something away from each season and I’m just happy to be a small part of that.”
The hard part about watching the teams compete at this age is the questions surrounding the future.
For Wheatland, the kids can complete Little League and go into the Legion program to continue their high school career.
For many of the Guernsey kids, there is no local Legion team and due to the lower numbers and other logistics, they retire from a sport they love and may be really gifted to play. At this point, if a Guernsey athlete wants to continue his career, he must come up with a lot of money which not only includes the $1,000 participation fee, but the travel is either 30 miles to Wheatland or 30 miles to Torrington.
“It’s so hit and miss,” Noggle said. “In the summertime it’s tough, even for us having a team here. We had one kid in soccer, one in track, a couple that are still doing wrestling, and one kid who races race cars on the weekends. We also have three different kids on travel teams. It’s tough to get a kid here sometimes for a full practice.”
Without a future, decisions are made to be part of sports where they can perhaps find a future and develop more of a passion According to Noggle, summer is a time for competing against other things.
“Guernsey has had a handful of kids in the past go down and play Legion ball,” Noggle said. “A few have done Torrington, and a few have done Wheatland. It just depends upon what age group. Traditional schedules of the past don’t exist anymore, and the face of summer sports has changed."