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Lake County Sentinel
A new era is dawning for the Painesville Harvey Red Raider baseball team 

(PAINESVILLE, OH) —  I sat down for a round table interview with five players from the Painesville Harvey Red Raiders varsity baseball team recently to discuss many topics. Those five players were Seniors Christian Rael, Blake Brozic, and Conner Bates. Sophomores Rodrigo Flores and Trent Hull rounded out the group.

When asking the Seniors about what they want to leave behind for the younger players, “We want to show commitment to this team and organization. We want them to grow and follow our lead,” said Blake. Conner followed with “Senior leadership is a big thing, but when you have younger guys on the varsity team, they can do the same thing as the senior leadership role. When you see younger guys taking on leadership roles it helps out everyone.” “The younger guys are mature beyond their years especially for sophomores” said Christian, as he was looking at Rodrigo and Trent, the two sophomores in the round table.

We interviewed each player on the team individually, and we asked them what their goals were for the season. Almost every player said they wanted to win the CVC (Chagrin Valley Conference) championship. I asked beyond that goal what do they want to achieve as a team. Conner jumped in and said “In the past few years we haven’t even had a record over .500, so to be able to be over .500 and turn the program around would be a big goal as well.” All the players echoed Conners sentiments. “Harvey is kind of viewed as a joke and we want to change that. Improve each year” Trent Hull said. Conner wrapped it up by saying “The coaching staff coming in feels like a fresh slate. The team chemistry feels stronger this year and it goes outside of baseball. We hang out outside of baseball, that creates a bigger bond which when you come back into baseball, everybody is working together and having more fun which translates into a lot more wins.”

I asked them collectively if there was a player besides themselves whom they wanted to see improve in a big way this year. The answer was simple, everybody. Each player wants to see every player grow even by the smallest margins. However the seniors did mention they wanted to see Sophomores Rodrigo and Trent grow a lot this year. Rodrigo Flores grew up in a soccer household and has only been playing baseball since his 8th grade year. Trent Hull was mentioned multiple times by the Seniors as a leader. The Seniors were adamant that they have big goals for this year as well as realistic goals, but were very confident in the future of the program as they play their final season at Harvey. Rodrigo gratefully said “This all comes from the people you surround yourself with. Two of our seniors have already committed to college baseball programs and you see that and it gives you motivation to come in to practice, especially for myself and Trent, to work harder and take the next steps.” Trent wanted to circle back to a question from earlier, “Taking it back to another question and you can kind of tie it into this as well, we have two Seniors who are playing at the next level with a third on the way and it’s flipping the narrative that people think there isn’t anything from Painesville city. Nobody can make it out. There’s no colleges, there’s no scouts. That’s changing. You’re seeing it change right now. Hopefully with players like Rodrigo and myself along with some freshman I look at and I watch them play and it will continue to change.

My last question was what is the one thing you want everyone to know about Harvey baseball. Conner was the first to jump in. “Nobody wants to win as bad as Harvey does.” Trent was next, “I agree with that, we’re all great friends, but a lot of people look at us like a failed organization and we are going to prove them wrong, plus we all love each other and play for each other. It comes down to our heart and our want.” “I just want to prove everyone wrong. Everyone always counts us out and it’s going to be different this year,” said Christian Rael. Blake talked about the coaching staff again which was a focus of many conversions with the players. Head coach Ryan Delaney and assistant coaches Sam Melnyk and Tommy Shirer received nothing but praise from every player and were mentioned multiple times by the players as a driving force behind them wanting to get better and have a real chance at winning the CVC. “Ever since that first week the coaching staff came over, there was a different energy there and I think the want (to win) is greater than last season, and we are coming for it this season” Blake concluded. “I agree with everything you all said” as all the players started laughing after Rodrigo said this to finish the interview.

Getting to know some of these young men, I did not come away unimpressed. Each player was well spoken. You can tell they want to not just be better than last year, but have a newly found drive to be the best. Many credited it to the coaching staff, others to their teammates and friends. The one thing that seemed to be the overall focus beyond this season was creating a new winning culture at Harvey. Each player was focused on this season, but for the Seniors, they also want to leave something behind. A winning attitude and program. For the younger players, they want to take that newfound culture, grow it and continue to cultivate it for Red Raiders baseball for years to come.  
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​POSTED 03/26/2022 17:17