Executive changes help Sewell Raildogs keep old town tradition, build community engagement

The board members are excited for what this season will bring for families and players.

By KRYSTAL NURSE

The Sun

Changes were made to the executive board at the Sewell Raildogs in hopes of improving players’ and parents’ experience regarding the baseball and softball teams.

Board president Rich Wessel said in the fall of 2018, the board sought to update how it communicates with players and parents, field availability and playability, and to provide additional training, when needed.

Three open board positions were also filled by Chelsea Porter, fundraising and sponsorship manager; Bruce Lawrence, field maintenance; and Pete Nerozzi, operations manager who is involved with the program’s T-ball group (boys and girls ages 4 to 6).

“Lack of emails to parents, opening day pictures, game times and everything you could possibly think of — there was no communication,” said Nerozzi. “The first thing Rich took over was making a monthly email go out and updating our Facebook posts almost daily.”

Since his monthly blasts have started, Wessel said he’s received feedback from parents who are thankful for the program to be as efficient as it is now. He said he’s received emails both registering kids for their respective groups, and to sign up for training clinics, which they had to rework to accommodate the influx of players.

MaryKate Covley, softball trainer who played collegiate softball, said this will be her first season she will be out helping the girls with hitting strategies. Covley is also a third-grade teacher in the Mantua school district, which Wessel added brings a familiar face to the players and parents.

Coaches, said Wessel, will now be more streamlined where they’ll be in a constant loop about other teams because kids move in and out, depending on their ages. They, in addition to the players, will also see changes in the fields’ conditions and better maintenance of the outdoor hitting cages. None of which can be changed until the weather gets warmer and drier.

“Sewell Baseball has always been a big thing for the past 40 years, it’s always been based on the kids,” said Lawrence, who’s been involved with the Raildogs since the 1980s. “It’s a good place for kids to play, it’s what the purpose of the program is for. We have to start to reach out to not only Mantua, but the Harrison and Clearview districts in our neighborhood because we have a lot to offer.”

Wessel and other board members do not foresee a competition with Harrison Heat because they want to see kids get involved and outside playing, regardless of who it’s for.

“As things continue to change in a positive way, what we look forward to is seeing the Sewell Raildogs transform into a great feeder program for Clearview Regional High School,” said Rolando Gautier, head coach of Clearview’s baseball team. “We intend to become active in the changes to come and will be honored to help in whichever way possible.”

With the changes made, and some coming, the board hopes to be more involved in Mantua Township with community cleanups and having the township committee and first responders come out for opening day festivities. Gautier looks to get the Clearview players at the Raildogs’ games, practices and events to help them with development.

The Raildogs welcome boys and girls between the ages of 4 and 16, with most teens being on their respective travel teams. Registration is open until Feb. 28 at www.SewellRaildogsBaeballAndSoftball.com. Opening day is scheduled for April 13.