Times Sports Editor
The Northview baseball program will have a decidedly new look this season, but with plenty of the same goals.
Former pitching coach, Scott McDonald, takes over the head coaching job from Gary Witham, who accumulated 581 career victories between Brazil and Northview High School.
Since being named head coach, McDonald has wasted little time in embracing the role and has quickly begun the task of bringing the Knights back to their winning ways following back-to-back sub .500 seasons.
"Since being named head coach, the offseason was very hectic, but also very rewarding," McDonald said. "We completed a program assessment to see what the needs were in terms of several areas."
First on the agenda was making some changes to the Knights' field that weren't just cosmetic, but necessary according to McDonald.
"First of all, we had to do more in terms of having a field that was safe for the kids. Tom Reberger and his staff along with our Dad's Club, have been instrumental in a lot of this. We have made numerous field changes including the new infield sod that has made a tremendous difference in our defense from years past," McDonald said.
Also readily noticeable is an enclosed press box on top of the stands and future plans include a three-foot brick wall that will run along the first and third base sides to give the field a Wrigley-esque feel.
On the field, McDonald and his coaching staff have worked to mold the Knights into a well-conditioned group that should pressure opposing teams from the opening pitch.
"We have worked hard to put together a conditioning program that has seen great results," McDonald added. "We have 20 kids that run the 40 (meters) in under five seconds. Our philosophy is one that puts great emphasis on the running game and this was one of the critical areas that we needed to address."
The Knights have also focused on building a strong work ethic amongst its players and McDonald hopes to include the entire community in the Northview program.
"Our motto during this pre-season has been, 'Every Rep, Every Set, Every Swing', McDonald said. "The kids have really bought in to it and have worked tremendously hard. This is the type of program that we want to see for many years to come."
McDonald also sees the Clay Youth League as a great developer of talent and feels that the CYL is an extension of the high school program.
"We are fortunate to have a great feeder system with the CYL," McDonald said. "We consider every coach there to be a part of the Northview program.
"This program is about this community and the pride that we will play with everywhere we go," McDonald added. "We are looking to make changes in our schedule to play the toughest teams and prepare ourselves for the tournament. The regular season is nice, but the tournament is where everything is important for our program to be measured."