Ask Post 467 manager Scott Zimmerman about his team, and he'll immediately turn the attention to coaches Casey Zimmerman, Mike Porter, Tony Allegretto, and the players.
"This group of kids is special. Casey, Mike, and Tony have been doing a great job with them over the years. They are outstanding ballplayers, and those guys have not only helped them grow as players but have helped them develop a love for the game. And, you can see it," Zimmerman said. "I do it for the kids and so do those guys. It's the most important thing, and as I said, this is a special group."
The Wilcox manager was proud of how his team battled the adversary despite losing to French Creek Valley 1-0 in nine innings in the Region 8 American Legion Baseball championship game on Tuesday in Albion.
"The kids did an awesome job. It was a devastating loss. We came up a run short, and I feel for the kids. They had to face things in that game that [many] teams wouldn't have been able to handle. But they handled it with class. At the end of the day, I can't say enough about them," Zimmerman said.
The Wilcox manager talked about his team's commitment to one another.
"The thing about our team is they're unselfish. The kids play anywhere we ask them to play on the field. They don't care where they play or what they're doing to help the team. They handled some tough things in the championship game and almost pulled it out," Zimmerman said. "They give us everything they have in practice and in games. They're a coach's dream."
Six years ago, the current manager brought Legion ball back to the village of Wilcox.
"There were definitely growing pains. We had kids that never played [at a high level of] baseball before. But, we've come a long way. You have to give credit to the kids that helped get things going back then. Now we have a group of kids that have so much talent and can play here because of them."
While Post 467's bid for a shot at a state title and more came to an end on Tuesday, Zimmerman thoroughly enjoyed the ride.
"The most important thing is to have fun, and we did. Yeah, it was a bummer not winning, but all season was a blast. The kids play their best ball when they're loose and having fun," he said. "I know Gabe (Watts) had a ball this season. We put him all over on the field, and he loved it," added Zimmerman of the 2021 Johnsonburg graduate who was the leader for the Rams baseball team who went 23-1 and advanced to the PIAA Class AA quarterfinals.
Watts will be furthering his career at St. Bonaventure University. Other team members who played for Wilcox included Johnsonburg students and Rams Aiden and Luke Zimmerman, Dalton Stahli, Kaden Dennis, Collin Porter, Jefferson Freeburg, and Caden Smiley, and Domenic Allegretto from Ridgway. In addition, Kane 2021 graduates Carson Whiteman, who will be pitching at Gannon University, and Reese Novosel, who will be playing in the upcoming Big 30 Charities Classic football game, were also part of the team, as was Lucas Bauer from St. Marys.
Zimmerman stressed the contributions of the parents and grandparents that help make the program a success.
"What a great group of moms. These kids like to get dirty, and they cleaned those uniforms every night. They do so much to help. You can't say enough about the parents and all the extra work they do," he said.
He also made it a point to say thanks to Sally VonArx Zimmerman - Aiden, and Luke's grandma.
"She streamed our games on her Facebook page all season. I know people appreciated that. She also does little things greatly appreciated, like cutting up watermelon for the kids before every game. All the parents and grandparents deserve a huge thank you from all of us."
"We got so much support from so many people. The fans traveled up to Erie for the tournament games. That's a long drive to go watch a legion game. Some did it for all the games. That's a big deal, and I know the kids appreciated it. They're the best," added the manager.
Zimmerman also praised Wilcox Legion Post 467's contributions.
"They support us whenever we need something. A good example is the club paid for the hotel rooms for the players and coaches and are always there when we need them," he said.