CHILLICOTHE - The young grasshoppers have quickly become the teachers in Post 757's baseball program.
The quartet of Seth McGuire, Derek Milliken, Ryan Milliken and Drew Barr once suited up in Colts uniforms. Now, they're still suiting up in the blue and gold, but in a different way.
Each of the four plays a different role inside the local American Legion baseball organization. And, luckily for the current and future players, they seem to know exactly what they're doing.
"We knew that 757 meant so much to us and that’s one of the things we really wanted to do; give back," Derek Milliken said. "Every year, parents come to us and tell us we're doing a great job. That means a lot. At the end of the day, that’s what matters to us. We're building character and teaching our guys how to play the game the right way."
Derek has teamed up with McGuire to head up the Colts' junior team, ages 16 and under. Over the past two years, they've had their struggles, but they hope a turning point is near.
"I just love being around our team in general," McGuire said. "It’s not always just about baseball with us. We teach them how to play, but you've got to have life lessons around the baseball. That’s something that (longtime Chillicothe coach) Marty (Dunn) preached to us. Baseball is a lot like the game of life. There's not another sport where three out of 10 times, you're successful and you're a good player. Play hard and do things the right way. If they do that, we can't complain about much.”
Derek Milliken and McGuire attend Ohio State and have roomed together over the past two years. Derek is a sports industry major, while McGuire is pursuing a degree in integrated social studies. Derek played in the 757 organization from 2010-13 after graduating from Chillicothe High School. McGuire paid his service from 2009-12 after graduating from CHS.
"Seth and I get along great," Derek said. "We've been friends since second grade and have been playing baseball together ever since. Off the field, I’ve lived with him over the past couple of years at Ohio State. We’re buddies and we love each other. It’s always a good time. We’re always able to relate.”
While the Colts' junior team is reaping the benefits of the pair's decision to coach, the Colts' senior team — ages 19 and under — has also gained a pair of valuable baseball presences.
Derek's younger brother Ryan, 20, and 757 head coach Tom Barr's son Drew, 19, recently joined the coaching staff as well. Ryan is acting as an assistant coach, while Drew takes care of the game-by-game statistics.
Ryan, a 2014 graduate of CHS, is a junior at Ohio State and is majoring in sports industry while Barr, a 2015 graduate of Zane Trace High School, attends OU-C and plays baseball under former 757 coach Bret Mavis.
The things they've learned from watching Barr in the dugout have already paid dividends.
"I want to coach high school ball after I graduate college," Ryan said. "I've learned a lot from just watching Tom. Little tricks to coaching at the high school level, at least I hope so. Things that I can do at both the legion and high school level. I learned just how different the coaching side of things is from playing. You're still watching the same game, but you're watching it in a completely different sense. It’s a lot more mental now. ”
But one of the biggest lessons all three now have experience in is the art of patience; a tool that doesn't come without wisdom.
"I've learned a lot of patience dealing with my kids," McGuire said. "You kind of expect to come into a season and everything goes exactly your way and that’s not the case. You deal with adversity between injuries and kids being on vacation and then it's also getting these kids to buy into what you're saying. It's giving them that extra little push to help them get better and then waiting on the results."
As the lessons continue to be taught, the young quartet of former baseball players will continue to transform their baseball minds, all in a positive way. That, they hope, will produce a correlation with team success.
Either way, 757's future seems to be bright.
"You're thinking about how you can help all of these guys do their best to help the team win," Ryan said. "It’s learning to deal with different personalities and trying to get them to come together. As we keep learning, I believe the team and the organization can only get better. If we do our job, our players do their job. And that is a recipe for success."