2013-06-07 / Sports Spotlight

Team has sights set on Cooperstown

By Michael Kelley Staff Writer

Head coaches Rob Krouskup, left, and Steve Cascio members of the Maine Blizzards youth baseball team, gave instructions prior to a short practice Friday, May 31. The team, started last spring, is preparing for an appearance at a national baseball tournament in Cooperstown, N.Y., next summer. (Michael Kelley photo) Head coaches Rob Krouskup, left, and Steve Cascio members of the Maine Blizzards youth baseball team, gave instructions prior to a short practice Friday, May 31. The team, started last spring, is preparing for an appearance at a national baseball tournament in Cooperstown, N.Y., next summer. (Michael Kelley photo) A year after the Scarborough Little League team appeared in the Little League World Series tournament in Williamsport, Pa., another baseball team from town is working hard in hopes of making its national debut.

While the Maine Blizzards baseball team won’t be playing in Williamsport, Pa., head coaches Steve Cascio and Rob Krouskup hope the team may make an appearance in a youth baseball tournament in Cooperstown, N.Y., in July 2014.

The team was formed last spring as an alternative to Little League, with the goal of traveling to Cooperstown, the small central New York village that has housed the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum since 1939, to play in the 2014 Cooperstown Dreams Park Tournament.


Jack Clark, right, and his Blizzards’ teammates worked on infield and base running drills Friday, May 31. The team, made up of 10- and 11-year-olds, will compete against some of the area’s top travel baseball teams beginning later this summer. (Michael Kelley photo) Jack Clark, right, and his Blizzards’ teammates worked on infield and base running drills Friday, May 31. The team, made up of 10- and 11-year-olds, will compete against some of the area’s top travel baseball teams beginning later this summer. (Michael Kelley photo) Starting the team was no small undertaking.

“It’s a big commitment for the parents and a big commitment for the coaches,” Cascio said. “We all do it because the kids deserve an opportunity.”

Krouskup said Little League — the largest youth sports organization in the world — does not sponsor traveling baseball teams to play in national tournaments like the one in Cooperstown. Krouskup said the Blizzards team was created to give the young baseball players that national exposure, while experiencing the rich history of baseball in America.

“It gives them an opportunity to play in Cooperstown and experience the tradition and history of baseball,” he said. “It is an opportunity to take some local kids out of the community and expose them to the national stage and help them develop a respect for the game.”

The team, made up of 10 and 11 year olds, begins its season in late June after the Little League season comes to a close.

Cascio said the level of competition the team will face is greater than the level they see in Scarborough Little League.

“It gives them a chance to play highly competitive baseball teams through the summer and test themselves against other talented local travel teams,” Cascio said. “We are going to use this as an opportunity to build camaraderie, learn a lot of life lessons and what it means to be a team.”

Above all, Krouskup and Cascio said, the Blizzards allows the players to continue to play baseball — the sport they love — throughout the year.

“I like playing year-round rather than just in the spring and I like playing on the same team as my friends,” said Jack Clark, 11.

For Ryan Lefebvre, 11, joining the Blizzards gave him another way to improve his baseball game, something he has been working on since T-ball.

“I have been playing baseball for a long time. When I was in T-ball, I was really good and started to love the game. As the years kept going, I loved the game more and more,” Lefebvre said.

Nolan Matthews, 11, said he also loves baseball and he hopes to follow in the footsteps of Paul Zaremba, his great-uncle who played in the San Francisco Giants system in the late 1950s.

“We play pass and he shows me pointers when I am down visiting him,” Matthews said of Zaremba.

Cascio said he and Krouskup have forged a relationship with the Scarborough High School baseball program, whose players have held several skills clinics with Blizzards players, to keep that love of baseball going as the players age.

“We are trying to take disparate leagues and make it a strong feeder system for the high school team,” Cascio said.

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