When I first stepped foot into GoWags 2 years ago and met Kyle Wagner he was in the middle of a giving a lesson. Within minutes of introducing myself, Wags pulled me into the cage and asked me to take some video of the kid he was working with. If you’ve been around GoWags long enough, I’m sure the “mad scientist” has asked you to do the same once or twice! I was immediately engaged and intrigued with how this dude taught the game of baseball. The passion, energy, & enthusiasm he exuded was contagious and his ability to deliver a message to young ball players was something I had never seen before. He was honest but encouraging & that is what I valued most. At the conclusion of the lesson, we talked baseball for a little while before I asked him if there was an opportunity for employment at GoWags. His response was very clear & precise – “Are you willing teach? Are you willing to learn? You know a little about baseball?” From that moment on, I knew exactly what type of culture surrounded this place. I was all in and ready to contribute my knowledge & experience to all of the athletes & families of GoWags!
A few days after meeting Coach Wags, I found out that he had a twin brother and that just sealed the deal! I met Bret Wagner about a week after my arrival to GoWags. A complete fountain of knowledge – I watched this dude walk into GoWags and head straight to the weight room every day at 3:00pm for the first few months I was there. He would come through the door and greet me with “Whatsup Swanny!?!?” and then make a beeline right to the bathroom to change out of his work clothes and into his gym clothes. He wasted no time! I would sit behind the desk and wait for my lessons to start while grabbing a quick bite of food after teaching kindergarten all day and every once in a while I would shout over the wall “You good in there Bret!?” Out of breathe and completely deflated, his response sounded something along the lines of this “Oh Yea! I think this is going to work for the boys”. Point is…..This dude had a purpose. Everything he did had a purpose and was always done with the athletes of GoWags best interest in mind.
John Gordon once said, “Culture drives expectations and beliefs; expectations and beliefs drive behavior; behavior drives habits; and habits create the future. It all starts with Culture”. I was 2 years out of college and had just moved to the Central PA area. I bought a house in Mechanicsburg with my beautiful wife Maddy and was excited to start a new chapter of my life. About 10 minutes after my arrival to PA, I got on the computer and started searching for local indoor baseball facilities – I was eager and hungry to get involved with the local baseball community. Never would I imagine walking into a place like GoWags and now 2 years later being in a position where I am sending out a letter informing the GoWags Families that I will be taking on full ownership. The Wagner Brothers gave me an opportunity and that is simply what GoWags has always been about – A Place of Opportunity.
Before my arrival to GoWags, I attended Binghamton University and played for the Binghamton Bearcats in the America East Conference. When my pitching career was cut short due to multiple shoulder injuries, I quickly immersed myself in the local youth baseball community in the Central NY area and developed several baseball programs and coaching opportunities for local little leagues & travel ball organizations. I became the Director of Player Development for the High Heat Baseball Academy and got involved with coaching at every level. “A good coach is someone who tells you what you don’t what to hear” and for those of you who know me, know that I am not afraid to speak the truth! You’ll often hear me preach to the boys – “Do you want to feel good or do you want get better? Because I can make you feel good at any point”. Coaching is the universal language of change & learning and that is why I am thrilled to continue to be a part of your children’s development.
Over the last 2 years I have met some amazing families, made some lifelong friends and trained a ton of athletes that I now call my little brothers. I’d like to think that I have influenced and helped GoWags & the Wagner brothers provide more opportunities for the athletes in our area. More importantly I’d like to think that my ability to connect & impact the lives of many young athletes is what is valued most amongst the baseball community in PA. My goal since day 1 has always been to bring more greatness to the already awesome GoWags Training Facility – A vision that would allow us to continue to develop athletes of all ages and provide even more resources to prepare them for the next level of baseball & more importantly….LIFE!
I’m beyond excited to announce that I will be taking on full ownership of GoWags Training Center this summer & changing the name to FullReps Training Center in memory of the late Kyle Ford. The GoWags name will live on through our travel teams and one of our top goals as an organization is to eventually run our teams through the nonprofit 501c3 (GoWags Teams Inc.) The GoWags Teams non-profit organization was established to begin fundraising efforts as an organization to help subsidize the cost for our players and provide more training opportunities & resources that contribute to the continuing education of coaches and development of players in our organization. One of our main goals is to make better baseball players in Central PA. We trust that this initiative will help subsidize the financial cost of participation for players while advancing our cause immeasurably as an organization. FullReps Training Center will be the home training center for GoWags Teams and you can rest assured that FullReps will be Central PA’s premier indoor training center – A place of opportunity for athletes who are willing to Dream Big. Work Hard & Stay Humble.
It was an absolute privilege to be part of the GoWags Family and I am extremely confident that FullReps Training Center will continue to grow, develop and provide the highest quality of training in the Northeast. “Life Begins at the end of your comfort zone” Its GO TIME! and I am extremely grateful to continue this process with your children & provide a full experience to all of you.
Thank you again for your continued loyalty and support. I look forward to keeping the torch lit!
WELCOME TO FULLREPS BASEBALL!!!
I think it was Billy White who once told me…”Experience is only valuable if you draw the right conclusions.” In other words, if you go through life tethered to opinions that are rooted in prejudice and dogma, there’s a chance you’ll only confirm your biased viewpoints. I’d like to think over these past 9 years that Bret and I have owned GoWags that we’ve gained valuable experience. Time will tell if we’ve drawn the right conclusions.
GoWags was never just Bret and Kyle Wagner. Bob Gorinksi has always had his hand in our operations. Bob’s physical appearance (My daughter Grace once said…”Dad, I love you very much but I hope my husband looks like Mr. Bob someday.) pales in comparison to his humble, unassuming, altruistic nature. When Bret and I had a strength question…Bob was always on the receiving end of the call. He’d answer. We’d nod our head in agreement and we’d continue on in his direction, guidance. Bob coined two phrases that we hope live on in perpetuity at GoWags. “Strength is the fountain from which awesomeness flows” and “FullReps.” The first phrase is somewhat implicit. The second phrase evokes emotions even as I write this today. Kyle Andrew Ford died in 2009. He was 15. Bob said…” I didn’t know him well, but he always gave FULL REPS.” Bob knew his character simply by the simple fact that he never took short cuts. I’d like to think we at GoWags realize baseball is a fleeting game played by competitive souls, but character can be built for life.
They were called the RiverCats. It was a name we settled on because we had players on the East Shore and the West Shore of the Susquehanna River. Splashed over the walls at GoWags is this quote. “Practice and play with good players as often as possible.” We didn’t intend for that to sound elitist. Yet, I suppose it could be construed that way. Someone once said “If you’re the best player on your team, find a new team.” YES! That’s what our quote meant. I learned so much from the RiverCats. I learned that you can strive to be the best player on the planet and still love and care about your teammates at the same time. I learned that in the transient, often cut throat world of travel baseball, parents can still genuinely care about other people’s kids. We RiverCat parents (I just had the pleasure of writing the lineup) still smile unabashedly when we think back to those days. Nothing great in life can ever be accomplished without enthusiasm. Live it with enthusiasm for those you share your life with.
Heaven Kelley was the sister of Tayven Kelley. Tayven Kelley played for the RiverCats and the Seminoles. Heaven was diagnosed with cancer at a very young age. Words can’t express the anguish that cancer inflicts on a family, a community. Be appreciative and grateful for the time you have with the people you love.
We called him “Pap.” I think most people called him Pap at the age of 88. Yet, the summer of 2015 (his last) might have been his favorite summer of all time. Think about that. What a way to go. Harold Wagner watched his great grandson Cole Wagner help Red Land Little League to a United States Championship. Cole was 6 when GoWags opened. He wasn’t very good. Not by anyone’s standard. But, Cole saw himself as a baseball player and Bret had the passion and knowledge to help. Slowly, they began to improve. They hit ATEC baseballs. They did slow motion swings. They pitched bullpens. They long tossed. They experimented. They fought. But, always they did it together. Sometimes, I was recruited to throw from the right side. Sometimes I was recruited to catch. But, always it was Cole and Bret. And that’s the way it is at GoWags; fathers and sons. Sometimes the journey pays dividends like giving your Grandfather the joy of a lifetime and other times it’s just spending time with your son. For us Dad’s we’re a father for a lifetime but we’re only a coach for a very small window. It’s challenging to keep the main thing the main thing. But, it can be done.
For the last 9 years we’ve worked tirelessly at bringing better baseball to Central Pa. I think we’ve done that. Bret and I are both 44 and our boys (Luke and Cole) are about to be in high school together next year. Those experiences we don’t want to miss. We’ve thought long and hard about GoWags and its’ future. I think through our experiences we’ve come to realize that the success of a business like this one requires ….knowledge to teach, willingness to change and fail, ambition to grow but above all else a love for others along the same journey.
Scott Swanson will be taking over ownership of GoWags this summer. He’s renaming the facility Full Reps Training Center. Bret and Kyle will still be present at FullReps and we’ll still have plenty of influence. Scott’s philosophy, I’d like to think, was shaped by how we think. He’s a 27 year old ambitious dude that has a love for the game and more importantly a love for people. I’m thrilled to know that our culture should continue to exist in Central Pennsylvania. Scott has already begun to surround himself with excellent resources intended to help develop our boys, girls. Scott also wants all of the GoWags family to know that the GoWags team legacy will continue to live on. He has no plans to change the “GW” brand worn by our many teams. In other words, the teams will still be known as GoWags and wear the “GW”. However, they will now train at the FullReps Training Center.
To all of those folks that have entrusted your son to GoWags, we thank you. Bret and I hope our efforts were worthy of your son’s dreams and goals. It’s been our pleasure to serve Central Pa. and we’ll certainly see you around. Please forgive us if we appear to have our Dad hats on. For these next years we’re going to try and keep the main thing the main thing.
Kyle and Bret
My brother tells the story of when he took his then 4 yr old brother-in-law, Jake, to Hersheypark and they found themselves in a really long line waiting to get on one of the water rides. It was hot. Kyle was hungry and thirsty. So, he asked Jake, “Do you really want to wait in this line?”. Jake said, “No”. Perfect, Kyle thought. They could get out of this heat and get something cold to drink. Kyle and Heather proceeded to walk away and Jake threw a fit. “I thought you didn’t want to wait in line?”, Kyle asked. “I don’t”, replied Jake. “But I still want to ride the ride!”
Think about that. Jake was 4. He understood the question. But didn’t understand the implications. Again. He understood the question. But not the implications.
So…Let’s talk hitting.
One of the 6 core principles of Green Light Hitting is Bat Speed. And, bat speed is a function of GROUND FORCES. You can’t create angular velocity without first having a significant “impulse” or push into the ground. You know. Newtons 3rd law. For every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction. If you push down into the ground hard, the ground actually pushes back. And that “push back” is where Angular Velocity lives. Sure. When you’re older and stronger (Again…the importance of GreenLightHitting leveling system), the need for the ground “push back” isn’t as important. You can create more ground forces on your own. But, until that time, you need to create ground forces.
For the young developing hitter, ground forces are king. They are a must. If you can’t create ground forces NOTHING ELSE MATTERS. But, time and time again, I hear coaches telling young hitters, “Get your foot down on time”. Actually, not bad advice. It is important to get your front foot down on time. But never, never, never at the expense of ground forces.
Young players may understand the statement, “get your foot down on time”. But do they understand the implications? Do they understand the implications of what you are saying? Based on my experience, the answer is a resounding NO! If you are continuously telling your developing hitters to “get your foot down on time” they will sacrifice ground forces in order to get their foot down on time. My astute readers are probably asking, “If getting your foot down on time is so important, why not just keep it down?” EXACTLY!!!!!
Here’s the link to our Green Light Hitting site if you’re interested in the other core principles besides Bat Speed.
The comments below are from a parent of a current GoWags 10U player. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of myself or any GoWags staff member. The purpose of this blog is to open an honest dialogue about the pros and cons of rec baseball.
Please feel free to contribute to the discussion.
Since many travel team kids face the same questions, and now that we are half way through our rec season, I thought I would share my perspective and open the discussion.Pros:
- First, he definitely gets a lot more reps – including more batting cage time, more practices and more games. In addition, he is also faced with more game situations and the need to know, in advance, where to make the play. At 10 years old, I think it is a critical piece of his development. Runners at first and third; one out; ground ball to the first baseman – what’s the correct play? The more scenarios he can be exposed to the better – right?
- A second benefit of rec baseball is the chance to play positions that he normally can’t on his travel team. As a lefty, he is typically relegated to the OF on his travel team, but has an interest in learning how to pitch and playing more 1B. His travel team, being competitive, is not the place to learn how to play new positions, but it’s a real value of playing rec baseball.
- Given his relative experience playing baseball, my son is looked up to by his rec baseball teammates, which provides him with a chance to develop his leadership skills. He is not asked to provide a leadership role on his travel team, and at 10 years old his skills are just beginning to emerge. Rec baseball provides an excellent avenue for travel kids to identify and hone these skills.
- Rec baseball also provides an avenue to participating in the All Star tournament, which provides a significant upgrade in the play and the competition. But it also provides an opportunity for kids to express their pride in playing for their local team and area.
- Reps vs. Quality Reps? Many of the rec baseball players are very new to the sport or, at a minimum, do not have the experiences or exposure that most travel team kids receive. The result is games and practices that can border on chaos. There are a lot of walks, errors, passed balls and strike outs, and routine plays in the field are often adventures. As a result, compared to travel games and practices, the quality reps in rec baseball require a much greater time commitment to achieve. In addition, it’s easy for the player to get caught up in the chaos and lose his focus. If your son does not have the ability to maintain focus through the chaos, he might not be able to take advantage of the quality reps when they finally do arrive. For instance, despite the chaos, does he go through a pre-pitch routine to know the correct play? Or does he mentally “check out”?
- Don’t expect travel kids to get much individual training or development as most (all?) training is designed for the vast majority of the kids with far less experience. Clearly the coaches (and there are some very good coaches in rec baseball) are motivated to improve the game’s competitiveness and nearly all their time is spent with the less experienced kids.
- Time. Balancing travel schedule and practices with rec games and practices can be difficult. We are often in the position of having to choose which practice or game we are going to attend on a nightly basis. We don’t want to miss any travel practices or time at GoWags, but some conflicts are inevitable.
From my perspective, rec baseball can co-exist with, and even augment, a travel baseball schedule – but with certain caveats:
- Does your son wants to learn a new position? If so, then you should play rec baseball.
- Can your son maintain his focus/discipline through the unsteady quality of play? If so, then there will be sufficient reps that rec baseball should provide value. If his focus is easily distracted to make practice/games meaningless then the answer is probably no.
- Do you and your son have the ability to maintain the time commitment necessary to take advantage of the inconsistent quality reps? The time drain can be exhausting. If you are going to take advantage of the quality reps, it requires a commitment. Rec baseball is certainly not the most efficient way to achieve quality reps, but some of the opportunities are unique.
The ultimate question is whether the time committed to playing rec baseball provides enough quality repetitions and opportunities for improvement to warrant time away from a more singularly focused commitment to the travel program. Given my son’s desire to work at new positions, I think the answer is probably yes – this year. But I also know that I will face the exact same internal debate next year, and I’ll spend a few sleepless nights trying to do the right thing for my son’s development. I’d love to get other feedback/discussion on the value of participating in local rec baseball leagues.
“You can’t quit now. You’ve made a commitment to the team. If you don’t want to play next year, that’s fine. But you have to finish the season.”
That’s the refrain that all of us parents use when one of our kids says they want to quit something. Right?
But have they really made a commitment? And to whom have they made their commitment? You can’t really commit to a team. A team is simply a name on a jersey. The real commitment is to the coach and the other players on the team. You commit to them.
So, what does commitment look like? What does commitment feel like?
Here’s the definition of commitment.
“Promise or agreement to do something in the future”
…to do something, …to do something, …to do something. It seems that the word commitment implies action. In order to commit to something, you must promise TO DO something.
Here’s where the line gets a little blurry. Who decides what you’re supposed “to do”? THE COACH OF COURSE!
Every coach is different. Some coaches simply ask that you show up on time for practices and games. Some coaches ask a little bit more. Maybe to practice on your own a little bit. And then there’s THAT COACH. The coach that wants to push you to your limits. The coach that wants to see if you can actually reach your potential. The coach that values practice MORE THAN games. Because games are simply the test. Practice is where you “sharpen the saw”. He wants you at HIS practices. He wants to hold you accountable. Accountable. Are you becoming the player he wants and expects you to become. Or…Are you just wearing the jersey?
So…Before you tell your son that he can’t quit because he’s made a commitment. Ask yourself. Has he?
Dad: “Bret, I’ve never seen [SON’S NAME] work this hard.”
Dad: “You don’t understand. In [HOME TOWN], he’s the best player in the league. When he comes here and sees all these other talented boys working just as hard as him, it really motivates him. He wouldn’t be working this hard without GoWags.”
Bret: “Thank you.”
Dad: “I can’t wait to see this crop of boys in about 4-6 years. Awesome.”
Big-fish–little-pond effect (BFLPE) is a term introduced by Herbert W. Marsh, and popularised by Matthew Gardner, which hypothesizes that the self-concept of students is negatively correlated with the ability of their peers in school: Thus, academic self-concepts depend not only on one’s academic accomplishments but also the accomplishments of those in the school that a student attends.
An implication of this effect is that low- or medium-ability students might prefer to attend a low-ability school instead of a high-ability school, as this would be better for their self-concept. These pupils can receive additional motivation from low- or medium-ability pupils in their class because their own achievements appear more significant. They feel more honored and may be motivated to keep their edge over the other pupils. This is especially true for pupils with a lack of self-confidence. Some parents send their children, with the explicit recommendation of psychologists, to schools that are known for a moderate level of proficiency.
Do you know someone who is “gifted” with the lack of self awareness? You know who I’m talking about. The person who has no filter. Literally says whatever is on his/her mind. I used to struggle with this person, finding them very offensive. Now, I’m in awe of them. I wish I had their “gift”. I think.
As a business owner, instructor, coach, father, mentor, friend, and brother I find myself wearing many different hats at GW. This time of year, I can’t play the role of father (at GW) nearly as much as I like. There’s simply too much demand for instructor and coach. It’s OK. This time of year makes me realize I rarely cross over those “fine lines” that I seemingly cross over all the time with my son.
My son is not a client. He can’t choose to take his business elsewhere (that doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to sometimes). I tell him whatever is on my mind. No different than the countless other fathers and sons in GW on any given night. It’s actually quite comical when I think about it. If frustration was combustible, GW would go up in flames just about every night between the hours of 6-8. I choose to take it as a good sign. No progress without struggle right? Everyone would be happy, happy, happy if dad would just flip meatballs. Nope. GW is about deliberate practice. And that means struggle.
But when I’m instructing and/or coaching the filter seems to appear. I find myself very aware of trying to say the right things so I don’t offend Mom, Dad, or son. I struggle with this. I really do pride myself on treating every client as if he were my son. I know that sounds corny but it’s the truth. I ask myself all the time, “what would I do with Cole?”. Here’s where the dichotomy comes in. I might do the same thing, but I certainly don’t say the same thing. Why? Because I don’t have time to ask the more important questions.
There are exceptions of course. Actually, lots of exceptions.