While most take the summer to vacation and get in some quality beach time, Marlton youth baseball was putting in work. Not just practicing and playing games, but excelling and winning at a historic pace.
The list of titles would be impressive for entire counties let alone one town. The 8U, 9U, 10U and both 11U teams won district titles. The 8U, 9U and one of the 11U teams won state championships, while the 10U and other 11U team lost in the state finals. The 8U and 9U teams went on to win regional titles.
In case you lost count, that is five district titles, three state championships and two regional championships for five Marlton teams. Fans of Philadelphia sports teams would settle for a third of that success.
“We were talking that over with the people who run the Cal Ripken District that we’re in and no one can remember a year in which one town had five district championships,” Marlton baseball tournament director Brad McIntyre said. “We’ve been building toward this, but to see it all come together in one season was special to watch.”
McIntyre is quick to credit the coaches throughout the program for Marlton’s historic season.
“We have phenomenal guys on staff. They are more responsible for us reaching this point than anyone,” McIntyre said. “They truly are committed to these kids and the culture we wanted to establish here in Marlton.”
With the culture of youth baseball changing as more parents enroll their children into AAU programs as opposed to town leagues, Marlton baseball commissioner Joe Schooley and McIntyre focused on what they could do to retain the kids Marlton already had living in town. Changing the mindset of the program is where they began.
“We wanted to change the culture of the program from a ‘win at all costs’ mentality to one that focused dually on development as well as winning,” McIntyre said. “We’re seeing the results of that change, and it’s been fantastic.”
The change in mentality hasn’t only been beneficial to the program on the field but also in terms of receiving more community support.
“We put in a minimum playing time rule so that allows all the kids to participate, play and develop. If their child is getting the opportunity to play, the parents are happier and with that comes support from the community,” McIntyre said.
While some may be checking the water or what Marlton parents are feeding their children, McIntyre said the reason for the success is obvious.
“The formula is pretty simple, honestly. Marlton is a big town with a lot of kids that participate, and we have great coaches throughout the program. If you have both of those things, you should see success,” McIntyre said. “We’ve benefitted from being able to retain our talent. Our registration numbers have been steady every year.”
McIntyre said he would be lying if he told you when he started three years ago that he expected this type of success this quickly.
“We are very proud of the program we’ve developed and we’re excited for it to continue,” McIntyre said. “We hope that with the in-town training programs we are developing, the success will only grow.”