When asked if this was his first year as the Freeze Head Baseball Coach, Shawn Donarski replied with a unique answer: “kind of.” It was an answer befitting of and due to the unique time period of the COVID pandemic.
Last year, Donarski was set to open as the new Freeze Head Baseball Coach before the season was shut down due to COVID.
“In all reality, yes, this is my first year,” Donarski said.
Meanwhile, the Freeze baseball team hasn’t played a spring season game since May 23, 2019, when the team fell to the Kittson County Central Bearcats in a Section 8A pig-tail playoff game in Greenbush.
Now, after nearly two years, the Freeze program, with its “technically” new head coach, would finally get back on the field again— this time in Kennedy versus that same Bearcats team on April 20, 2021.
Coach Donarski discussed what he was looking forward to most about this season as head coach, and highlighted this year’s Freeze team, including its seniors, coaches, total player numbers, and play in practice. He also talked about the team’s strengths and question marks, and what he would define as a successful season for this group.
In his first full season, Donarski looks forward to this season for the chance to get to know his players, along with other reasons related to COVID.
“(I’m looking forward to) enjoying spending time outside and not being cooped up or locked inside our houses or anything like that,” Coach Donarski said. “And I’m looking to see the kids improve throughout the year, just continually get better.”
This group will be led by two senior players, including Jake Knutson and Easton Olson. Both have assumed leadership roles.
“They help out with the younger kids, kind of making sure they’re in the right spots,” Coach Donarski said. “And with our limited outdoor practices that we’ve been able to have, they’ve really stepped up and shown their leadership through action, more than anything.”
Besides Donarski, other coaches on the Freeze staff include: Jared Jacobson (assistant to provide leadership in pitching), Mike Brazier (volunteer assistant), and Travis Smith (junior high coach from Grygla). They lead a group of 28 total players— 14 in tenth to twelfth and 14 in seventh to ninth.
Donarski also highlighted the newly formed co-op with Grygla— one bringing a couple players into his program— that was in the works last year before COVID shut the season down. It formally came together in the winter to spring time of this school year.
As a head coach, Donarski said, one always wants to win every game, but knows doing that will require strong pitching and the ability to handle adversity.
“If we come out (in our first game) and play with confidence, not beat ourselves down if we miss something, or miss a grounder or miss a pop fly,” Donarski said, “if we can keep those small things… to a minimum, we’re going to be very successful throughout the year.”
To see the complete story, read the April 22 issue of the North Star News in print or online.