Prep baseball: Ben Schley takes over as Pellston varsity baseball coach
A physical education and health teacher at Pellston High School, Schley is also the head varsity football coach and the junior varsity boys basketball coach.
Schley takes over replacing Randy Bricker Jr., who coached the Hornets for the past 15 seasons.
A tough spot to replace in the dugout, Bricker coached Pellston to winning records in 11 of his 12 final seasons and guided the Hornets to three regional championships from 2000-03.
He stepped down to spend more time with his family after last season.
“There’s definitely some pressure here,” Schley said of taking over what Bricker built at the school. “Anytime you go into a program that’s had success like they’ve had here for a number of years, there’s definitely some pressure to do the right things and to win games.”
When it comes to balancing his teaching duty and his array of coaching duties, Schley, a 2005 Cheboygan High School graduate, is confident he can continue to handle the heavy workload.
“At this point, I have all the time in the world,” Schley said. “I spend most of my time here after school or doing weight lifting for football, then I go to practice. Just have to put the time in.”
Pellston Athletic Director Tony Basanese is also confident Schley can take on the task of replacing Bricker and handle more than one sport at his school. He knows that through Schley’s past, a work ethic and level of experience have been gained that are beneficial to the Pellston athletic program.
A two time All-Conference member in football while at Cheboygan, Schley eventually walked on to play for Central Michigan University. In baseball, he was a four year member of the varsity squad.
“Based on working with Ben and his past baseball experience, several factors went into him being chosen as the next coach,” Basanese said. “When he talks to kids about what it takes to be successful, he’s proof. When he talks, he talks with experience as someone who’s done it at the next level and been successful.”
As far as strategy on the baseball field, being aggressive and the mental part of the game will be the key to the success of the team according to Schley.
“The mental part is huge,” he said. “I stress that you need to believe that every time, every pitch is coming to you. In hitting and running, I want us to be aggressive. I don’t want you waiting at the bag. I want us to hit and run.”
At the moment, like most schools in the area, the Hornets have yet to dig into the base paths, as they’re confined to the high school and elementary school gyms due to the inclement weather of Northern Michigan’s winter.
Schley is more than familiar with having to practice inside to begin the season, doing so every season as a player at Cheboygan.
“It’s tough, it’s extremely tough. There’s so many things you want to do,” said Schley. “As a coach, I think it’s more difficult because you have to prepare and figure out how you can get the most out of these players inside of a gym.”
The Hornets’ first game is slated for Wednesday, April 10 at East Jordan with a 4:30 start time, but it’s currently up in the air if games will actually be played on schedule.
Whenever they do start, though, Schley is confident he can deliver a wining team to a community that has been accustomed to winning over the years thanks to Bricker.
“I’m pretty confident,” he said. “The community and the players are used to winning so there’s definitely some pressure there.”