For most high school baseball players, the American Legion season offers a chance to work on their skills for the next varsity campaign or to get ready to begin playing at the collegiate level.
But for Norwood-Norfolks Cody Smith it is providing him one last chance to play competitively a sport he loves.
Smith, a senior, will play for the Norfolk Rovers until early August when he leaves to join the U.S. Marine Corps.
I figured that would be a good option if I didnt want to go to college, Smith said. Right now, Im going in for infantry, but hoping after a few years, I can change out and try and do something else.
Smith hopes to be able to use his athletic skills during the rigourous basic training.
He was the Times All-North Northern Athletic Conference All-North Most Valuable Player this season.
That should help a little bit and give me a head start at least, Smith said. I suppose its going to be hard to adjust to training every day and tons of stuff you have to get used to. I hope I feel proud coming out of (basic training). It will feel good to be one of the people who have.
Said Flyers coach Don Peterson, I expect nothing but good things for Cody. Hes matured so much as a young man.
Hes got some very good priorities and has a very good family to support him, Peterson added. I think hell do just fine. He sets goals and he strives to achieve those goals.
Smith spent the spring leading the Flyers to a 15-3 overall record, an Northern Athletic Conference East Division championship and a Section 10 Class C championship.
He was the teams top pitcher with a 6-2 record and a 1.89 earned-run average. He struck out 65 and batted .475 with three home runs and 25 RBIs. He was given the Jim Pinkerton Award, which goes to Section 10s top overall player.
I was happy of course and proud of him as his coach, Peterson said. Hes worked hard. I put in his mind at the end of last year that he could be the (East Division) MVP his senior year, and I think he had that goal in his mind as well. Once he sets his mind to things, often times he achieves them.
I think his decision to go into the Marines, which was made early this school year, was a big part of his ability to grow and mature as a person and be able to control his emotions, to be available to do well and not take himself out of situations, Peterson added.
We had several younger players that got quite a bit of time and they saw Cody as an example and role model of how to play the game of baseball and how to be a leader. They wanted to do their best so they didnt let the seniors down at any time of the season.
Not only did the Flyers dominate the East Division, finishing with a 13-1 record, they also beat some larger schools this season, including Massena and Potsdam.
I thought it was pretty cool, Smith said. I dont think wed ever beaten Massena until this year. I expected to make it to states. I was hoping we could make it to the (state) final four. We didnt go as far as I expected.
Said Peterson, He put the team first before himself in every situation we had this year and he made himself available to the team to do whatever it took to win. He loves the game of baseball and hes been playing it since he was young. He worked out and he was in the (batting) cage working on his mechanics. He didnt just come to practice and play, he played throughout the entire year and worked out things constantly.
Because Smith is not going to college, this summer with the Rovers will mark the end of competitive baseball.
Its not really sad or depressing, Smith said. I had a good time while I was playing. I didnt think Id go too far with it, and I was glad to be able to play while I was here.