Last summer, the baseball field next to the Tri-County School in Karlstad sat empty— devoid of any cheers or bat “tings.” No morning to early afternoon summer-rec baseball action was happening there in June and July. That was not the case this year, as summer-rec baseball returned in Karlstad after being cancelled the previous season due to COVID.
All four Karlstad teams’ 2021 seasons ended recently and, after they did, first-year Karlstad Summer-Rec Head Coach Jennifer Johnston discussed the season. She talked about her first season, what influenced her to lead the program, participant numbers and assistant coaches, some words of thanks, what she enjoyed most about the season, and what it meant to see these youth get back on the field.
Before Johnston began leading the program this year, Steve Murray had been leading the program. Murray provided a strong resource for Johnston when she started this role— help she expressed thanks to Murray for providing. Murray led her in the right direction in terms of the people she needed to contact in the community and in other communities. He also provided the program with the rules it needed to follow for the year.
“I was lucky enough to be able to work quite a bit with Steve,” Johnston said.
She highlighted how her first season went well. She decided to take on this role after a few people had contacted her to ask if she would be willing to come and help the program, not wanting to lose the program— one having no one to fill the head position at the time.
“I didn’t want to see the program disappear. I’ve got a kid in it myself and I know quite a few of the kids that were in it,” Johnston said. “And (I) just didn’t want them to… not have it after not having anything last year. It was just really important to me to be able to let them continue that this year and not lose that opportunity.”
Over 90 players participated in this Karlstad summer baseball opportunity, open to those players as old as having finished ninth grade. The program had four levels and they are as follows from youngest to oldest: T-Ball, Small Fries, Pee Wees, and Midgets. The T-ball team finished on July 8, the Pee Wees on July 12, the Midgets on July 13, and Small Fries on July 14.
Johnston didn’t lead all 90 plus of these players alone. Several individuals assisted her with the program, including Jadyn Johnson, Logan Kostrzewski, Gavin Duray, and Jana Kraulik. Besides Murray, Johnston also thanked these individuals who helped lead these players and Jonathan Pearson for umping all the Karlstad home games this year.
To see the complete story, read the July 22 issue of the North Star News in print or online.