This time of year remains extremely busy for those behind the scenes of the summertime game of balls and strikes. Just ask Cranston Cal Ripken League’s Mike Marot, who has been involved with the league for many years and was recently awarded the CLCF Coach of the Year Award at the Cranston Cal Ripken Baseball League Opening Day.
Mike continues to lead in the efforts to make the game a positive experience for the up-and-coming ball players, something he has done for several years for the betterment of the growth and development of the children who cross his path.
Cranston Cal Ripken President, Steve Richard, said “Mike has been a leader and champion on and off the field going back several years within CLCF Baseball. He served as an assistant coach on our 10U team that won CLCF’s first-ever New England Regional Championship and represented the region at the 2015 Cal Ripken World Series in Winchester, VA. In our house league, his AAA level team won three consecutive league championships, including an undefeated season, with contributions from all players with all levels of ability and experience.”
Richard added, “Each year at registration, parents of returning players inform the league of the positive impact that Mike has had on his players. Off the field, Mike’s work is tireless. He organized a highly successful 10-week winter training program for players aged 5-12 and coached each week during each session. In addition to coaching, Mike serves as our league’s equipment and uniform manager, taking care of the many demands that go with that position in a 400+ player league. He makes sure their five separate playing fields are maintained. Most of all, he’s always willing to lend a hand or offer advice to newer coaches in the League."
When we reached out to Mike to answer a few questions about his involvement with the Babe Ruth League program, he was more than willing to accommodate our request and share his experience with our membership. In fact, his exact words were, “Thank you for this opportunity; I'm truly honored that you would do a Q&A with me. I want to start by saying that the Cal Ripken/ Babe Ruth organization is a class act. I've been to many state and regional tournaments and to a World Series, and I have to say Cal Ripken does things right for the kids and for the families supporting them. I have many great memories and experiences at the local, regional, and national levels. Your staff and volunteers do an excellent job to represent Cal Ripken / Babe Ruth."
Were you a Babe Ruth League Alumni?
When I played baseball from 7-12 years old I played for Appanaug Independent Little League, which became Appanaug Cal Ripken after I left. I then played for Warwick Pal Babe Ruth when I was 13 & 14.
How and when did you first get involved in coaching?
I actually started coaching when my oldest son Jordan was 5 yrs old and decided to play soccer. I played lots of soccer as a child so I was comfortable teaching the kids about the game. Jordan was not into organized sports at the time so I coached a team of 5 yr olds for the season while he hung out with his mom on the sidelines watching. It didn't matter to me that he didn't want to play; I still enjoyed coaching the kids. I started coaching baseball when Jordan was 7 years old. At 6 yrs old he went to a friend’s fall ball game and fell in love with the game instantly. We signed Jordan up for CLCF Cranston Cal Ripken that spring. A friend of mine was coaching the team at the time, so I assisted him. I enjoyed coaching and had a real passion for baseball. With that passion I started to become a student of the game, really watching the other coaches and how they managed the game. I tried to take the good and the bad from every coach I encountered to help myself become a better coach and person on the field. I started really watching baseball in person and on TV to get to know the ins and outs of the game. Both my boys, Jordan and Alex really enjoyed playing baseball and I wanted to be able to teach them the best I could. I also wanted to bring this knowledge I was gaining to CLCF so that I could help other players become better. Alex my youngest son was only 4 at the time but was obsessed with baseball. Probably because the Red Sox was always on the TV and because we were always playing catch or hitting in the yard. The following year I helped both Jordan and Alex's teams out as an assistant coach. Alex was playing instructional and Jordan was playing AAA. I've been involved with at least one or both of the boy’s teams every year since Jordan started playing at 7 he is now 14.
What expectations did you have when you first started?
My expectations when I started coaching were first of all to spend time with my boys. That was very important to me. I then realized the boys had a passion for the game, so I wanted to give them the best instruction I could so they were prepared for when they took the field. I also like seeing players not just my kids succeed and learn. I guess I get enjoyment when I see a player use some of the knowledge I give them and use what I gave them to become a better player. Goals and expectations change depending on what team I'm coaching and who is on the team. I coach house, tournament and AAU teams and the main philosophy is always taught and that is learning the proper way to play the game, respect the game and the people involved and to have fun.
What was your experience on the tournament trail ending at the 2014 10 Year-Old Cal Ripken World Series in Winchester, VA?
In 2013 CLCF's 9 yr old tournament team, which I coached and Alex played on, made it to the championship in the regionals. We were the winner bracket champions and had to be beaten twice in the championship. Unfortunately we lost two tough games to a very good Plymouth MA team. After that season I worked harder in the offseason to help prepare my players for the upcoming season and the tournament teams. Both my sons worked with a few different pitching and hitting coaches. I went to all of their sessions because it helped me sharpen my skills. I got a different perspective from other coaches and former players.
In 2014 we found ourselves in a similar situation as 2013 but this time we were coming out of losers bracket and we had to beat Exeter NH twice to advance to the World Series. Two very exciting games later we were on our way to Winchester, Virginia, to represent CLCF Cal Ripken, Cranston, RI and all of NE in the Cal Ripken World Series. A 12 hr Amtrak train and bus ride brought us to Winchester. We were greeted by wonderful people from Virginia and Cal Ripken/Babe Ruth. We had one of the greatest experiences of our lives. Meeting and playing teams from all over the U.S. Including Hawaii. Every team represented themselves with class and were great sportsmen. We went 1-3, but our lives would never be the same after this once in a lifetime opportunity (hopefully twice if we can win this year’s 12year-old tournaments and head to Aberdeen, Maryland). The response from the league, city and state was remarkable. In 2 weeks we raised enough money to pay for all the players’ hotel rooms through canning, donations and a macaroni dinner. The whole CLCF Cal Ripken family came together to make sure our team was able to make our trip to Winchester VA an experience to remember. And it was!
You organized a winter training program. Tell us about that.
This year I organized a winter clinic for our league that included all our divisions. We ran 3 different age groups and tailored our clinic to the skill level of each group. We had 50 players that participated in our 10 week session. Every week we broke down the clinic into stretching and throwing exercises, fielding and hitting. It was fast paced and kept all the players busy over the hour session. The development of the players and their skills were the primary goal of our clinic. We helped all the players in our clinics get ready for upcoming tryouts and season.
You do a lot more than just coach. We are told you also maintain the league's 5 fields and the equipment for over 400 players. What does that normally entail for you?
One of my tasks in the league is to order for and supply our 31 teams with uniforms and playing equipment. I also make sure field equipment and game equipment is ready and available for the players and coaches.
Any advice to those interested in coaching?
My advice for anyone wanting to become a coach is to be prepared. Your knowledge of the game and the rules are very important to become a successful coach. Being able to relate with the players is very important also. And the willingness to continue learning about the game. I try to pick up something new in every game that could help me for the future.
Babe Ruth League, Inc. is proud to place the spotlight on Mike Marot. The real force behind the achievements and milestones reached by Babe Ruth League is our dedicated volunteers. People like Mike Marot who always go above and beyond for our participants. The simple truth is we would not be where we are today without Mike and the many other volunteers who step up to the plate for the youth of our program. We are proud to see Mike Marot honored for the countless volunteer hours he has put forth for the Cranston Cal Ripken League.