For the Love of the Game
By Christopher Tremblay
Staff Sports Writer
In the past, the Ashland Youth Softball program was an important part of the feeder program to the high school.
However, a few years back, it seemed to go away, and the two entities were separate units. That is until last year when not one, but both groups found themselves with new leaders. Matt Matsen took over the high school softball team and Sean Weglage became the Vice President of the youth softball program in town. Together the two formed a bond that would eventually unite the programs once again.
“After deciding to build a partnership last year in our first years, we wanted to take it to the next level this year and do more,” the second-year Softball Coach said. “This year we’re looking to have clinics with youth coaches. All of our high school players have gone through the program and our future players are going through it now.”
According to Weglage, it will be the first time in some five or six years that Ashland will have winter clinics with the high school’s involvement. The Clocker athletes will be helping out the youth program looking to bring synergy back.
“Matt and I seem to be cut out of the same cloth so joining forces shows that the high school and youth softball programs in Ashland can come together,” Weglage said. “The youth program is supposed to be the feeder program to the high school in addition to showcasing the program and how the players are moving up the ladder and eventually into the high school.”
Over the past few years lacrosse has been pulling athletes from the softball field during the spring while club soccer and flag football have been taken athletes during the fall season. Weglage also noted that as the kids get older, the softball numbers have seemed to dwindle.
Matsen had coached 18 years in the Shrewsbury youth program before coming to Ashland to take over the Softball Coaching duties and he realized there needed to be a partnership.
“We are looking to get kids interested in the sport at a younger age once again and have them continue to play while high school players are now able to give back to the youth programs that they came up though,” he said.
Matsen believes that the high school program will benefit from joining forces with the town’s youth league. The Ashland coach noted that by the time that athletes arrive at the high school if they have any type of mechanical issues, it is usually too late to fix. However, if they catch it early on in the program it becomes not only better for the athlete but also the program down the line.
The two have also added fundraising to the partnership as there are always things that you can do outside of the normal ways of raising money. This year they have combined used equipment swap in addition to fund raising for the programs. “For the Love of the Game” will be held on March 2, and is organized in memory of Coach Andy Lymburner, a longtime Vice President, and Coach of Ashland Youth Softball. Weglage also noted that although they cannot name a field after the coach, they have been able to dedicate the Warner School field in his honor with a sign.
Having started on Jan. 10 and continuing through March 13, the two programs will be having all sorts of clinics with MetroWest providing the facilities and Planet Fast Pitch the instructors. Pam Curtis, a softball player and the first female to play baseball in Ashland will also be helping out to give the kids the opportunity to learn the game. On March 30 they will host a softball Jamboree that began three years ago a pre-season tournament hosted by Ashland. Last year it was cancelled due to rain.
The two groups will also hold a mock middle school tryout showing the athletes that is not just something that you show up for, but how to prepare and get ready to take part in one.
.“By joining forces once again we want to show the kids how great it is to be playing a sport in a season for a team,” Weglage said. “But it is much more than that – it’s more about becoming a family.”