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Lake County Sentinel
Painesville Harvey Red Raider freshmen making an impact 

(PAINESVILLE, OH) —  I sat down and talked recently with five players on the Painesville Harvey Red Raiders varsity baseball team and talked a wide range of topics. One of which was the culture change they wanted to leave behind for the younger players. Myself and Sports Editor Tim Shirer also had an opportunity to sit down with Freshman varsity players Aiden Englehart and Ryan Delaney to discuss baseball, leadership, and the future of the program.

Tim started the interview by asking, “When practice started at the beginning of the year did you feel like you could be on varsity?” Aiden responded “A little bit, yeah, I thought I could be on varsity, but I also knew I would have to prove myself.” Ryan Delaney elaborated, “It’s more of a goal than an expectation, I wasn’t really expecting it, but it was definitely a goal.

I followed up with questions for the two Freshman by expanding on their answers of having expectations on making varsity, by asking what specific goals they had by being on the varsity team. Ryan said, “There are a lot of seniors graduating and we need to step up and be leaders. We are learning from them, so we can take those leadership skills and bring them up with us.”

Tim had a specific question Ryan Delaney, who is the son of Harvey’s head coach Ryan Delaney, and asked “Do you feel any extra pressure as a player being the son of the head coach, or once you take the field you are just another player and that’s it?” “Once I’m on the field I’m just a player. It helps that with the boys on the field it’s a family, so it’s not like I feel any extra pressure.”

We next asked Ryan what his biggest strength is as a teammate. “As a teammate, bringing some energy and helping everybody out. Baseball wise? Again bringing the energy up in the dugout and listening to the older guys.” He followed up with “My favorite position to play is catcher, but we have a senior catcher, so I’m playing second base this year. Next was Aiden. “Being a teammate, learning primarily, just being a freshman this year. Having these seniors above us is really good experience. For Ryan and I to get this recognition (by being on varsity) and having them be there for us is everything. What I can bring to the table is hitting. I’ve improved a lot hitting the ball. That’s my main thing, I love hitting so I feel like it’s a really big strength I can bring to the team.”

Knowing how hard it is to make varsity at any age, especially as a Freshman, I wanted to know what it meant to them to make it in their first year in high school. “It means a lot, getting the opportunity on varsity is a big thing. You are playing some people four years older than you. It’s like going from a 14U summer team to kids playing 18U. It’s a big jump.” Tim who has seen Harvey practice, offered words of encouragement. “I’ve seen you two practices, I have seen you play. You belong, and that’s pretty impressive.” That’s some big praise from a professional writer who has been covering sports from professional to college to high school for 26 years.

I asked if they have a game circled on their schedule that they are looking forward to this season. They answered this question together, saying, “Perry (Pirates) just because it’s our first game. (NOTE: This game was cancelled due to weather but the next day the boys played their first game and run ruled Bristol 12-1.) Both first game of the season and our first high school game in general. Another one, just from past experiences are teams that head the CVC (Chagrin Valley Conference). Dominators like Grand Valley. It would be very, very nice to get a win against them.” I thought this was a very mature answer. Both Ryan and Aiden know the magnitude of playing on varsity, so they want to remember their first game, but also have goals of beating some of the best teams in the conference and having an even bigger goal of the team winning the CVC.

Being a part of a team, is that something that’s important to you? An important question for any player at any level. Their response was “Our biggest strength here (at Harvey) is heart. Us molded together we have strength in numbers. “I sometimes forget we are teammates, it’s more like we are brothers I feel like, it’s more like a family here. “You can have all the talent in the world and no chemistry and be a mediocre team. I feel like we can take advantage of that.”

My last question was “Being the two youngest players on varsity, this is going to be their team in four short years. What do you want to take from this season and beyond to pass down when the time comes.” Aiden started with “I want to learn from our Seniors on being good leaders, help younger guys develop and have the younger players learn from us when we are in that position.” They then named senior players like Blake Brozic and Conner Bates as players who have helped them so far and how that’s how they want to be with the Freshman when they are seniors.

After being able to talk with many players on the Harvey team, I have concluded that this program is a true team. A family unit, who wants to thrive on being there for one another, both on and off the field. From the Seniors all the way down to the Freshman there seems to be a message that is being sent. That message is, this is not the same Harvey team of the past. The coaching staff has instilled a new mindset and every player is all in. The Seniors want to be the best players, leaders, and team they can be. The Freshman and Sophomores want to learn and in turn lead in the same way. There is change coming to the Red Raiders varsity baseball team. A team mixed with veterans and youth, and a team to keep your eye on in the CVC this year.  
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​POSTED 04/02/2022 18:58