‘Jacks Return From Myrtle Beach Trip
How do 12 kids and a coach survive a 12-hour road trip without anyone going crazy? It’s simple. They all wanted the same thing: to see how its done and get out there and make it happen.
That is what the main goal was for Valley High School Head Coach Jim West when he set out to take his 12 players to Myrtle Beach, S. C., to play baseball games during Spring Break.
Eight of the 12 players had never seen the beach, let alone leave the area on vacation and the long trip with the boys didn’t seem to bother West one bit. “I have some great kids. They like me and want to learn and use the information we saw and put it into action,” said West.
The Lumberjacks had an outstanding following as eight of the 12 kids parents, family and friends made the trip, too – 66 in all. The team stayed right on the beach at a nearby hotel and got up bright and early to start their learning experience. They got right into the fire, playing a AAA power Atlantic Shore team. The ball field was like a major league field with a brick wall for an outfield fence and the kids were both star-struck and intimidated from the start.
However, they quickly felt at ease and played good baseball. They lost all their games, but the coach and the players knew they weren’t going to set any records. They just wanted the experience to see how it was done and pool all their knowledge and put it in their playing.
The played on a different ballfield for the second game, but it was a nice as the first. The 100 year-old field was named after the Georgetown coach of 40 years, Mike Johnson. The atmosphere of the ballfield, along with the competition that they played against, was a learning experience of its own and the kids competed well.
The third game was against AAA baseball power Jefferson County from West Virginia. The ‘Jacks scored the game’s first run and their first and only lead of the trip. The ‘Jacks pitching didn’t walk a batter and the team didn’t commit any errors. The experience from the first two games started to take hold.
“The kids had a good time and when the Jefferson Coach came over and talked to our players, you could have heard a pin drop. Our players were grateful and took all the information to heart,” said West.
“The coach told our team a lot of things, but the one thing he was proudest of is that a small school in West Virginia came down here to play with the ‘big boys.'”
In the fourth game the ‘Jacks played Logan West Virginia. It was their best game of the trip. They hit the ball and scored runs, ran the bases, played well on defense and put the ball in play. They had the bases loaded a few times, but ran out of arms. The played Logan a second time and played hard and moved the ball among the different positions. “We haven’t had this kind of opportunity to play this many innings against top notch ball teams and the boys arms were tired,” said West.
“The kids came down to see how its done right, compete and learn from their mistakes and put it together. The memories of the trip will be in all our hearts and we will cherish them. I believe it has pulled us together, not only as a team, but as a community, too,” said West.
“If it wasn’t for our businesses donating and the community opening their wallets we couldn’t have made the trip,” added West. “The moms had a spaghetti dinner that raised a lot of money, as well as raffles and much, much more,” said West.
The players, coaches and parents saw the success of the trip. “I believe they accomplished all they set out to do and more,” said West. “The team went everywhere together, including a minor league ball game.”
It was a good experience for the team and it went better than West thought it would. “What we got out of the trip has to help us,” said West. The teams they played against all had 25-35 players on their teams. They play year around, the kind of baseball we in Wetzel County can only dream of.
The stories – the music – that West heard to and from Myrtle Beach will last a lifetime. And that’s ok with him.