The Wollochet Baseball Club, part of American Legion Baseball, is back for its sixth year. The American Legion is a Veterans Service Organization and Gig Harbor Post 236 sponsors the team.
Willie Clark, an algebra teacher at Gig Harbor High School, will coach the 17U (AA) team and Jeff Milbourn, also a teacher at Gig Harbor High, will coach the 16U (A) team.
The club serves the greater Gig Harbor area, including Pierce, Kitsap and Mason counties. Currently, the team has eight players from Gig Harbor High, two from Peninsula and a few from other schools in the area. The team starts its season in mid-May and plays through July.
"I just enjoy giving kids the opportunity to keep playing at an affordable price and stay in the game as long as I can," Clark said. "We can’t play anymore as coaches, so we try to compete as a coach."
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Clark brought on Gig Harbor High School head baseball coach Pete Jansen a few years ago. Jansen will return this season as an assistant.
"It’s great," Clark said. "It’s nice having him in the dugout. He brings lots of knowledge. He brings a little something different to the game than I do. I consider him a master teaching of the game. He has a very even keel temperament, but he’s very competitive. He brings a calmness and I bring a little more fire. He calms me down and keeps me a little more even keel."
Clark is honored to be a part of American Legion baseball.
"It’s a homegrown, local organization," Clark said. "It’s never been an organization to promote anything besides good sportsmanship, honoring the country and family. It’s about the guys down at Post 236."
Clark said the veterans enjoy coming out to the games and watching the team play.
"It’s important to honor our veterans, important for the young people to know and understand where some of these guys have stood in the gap, that a lot of us have never know," Clark said. "It’s not just about the baseball, it’s about the community."
Sticking to summer baseball, rather than fall or winter like some select organizations, was important for Clark, who wants to promote the multi-sport athlete.
"I don’t want them to be locked into baseball. I think they’re too young," Clark said. "Just play in the summer. I think kids are specializing a little too young."
The teams will play 30-40 games, mostly in the greater Gig Harbor area. While the 17U team is mostly set, there’s still some spots available on the 16U team, Clark said.
Those interested can email Clark at firstname.lastname@example.org.