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