By DON McCORMACK - email@example.com
Dave Blashinsky wears more than one hat, these days.
He spent the spring as a volunteer coach for Steve Cunha’s Edgewood Warriors and taking up a great deal of his time presently is being the head coach of the Ohio Outlaws Silver 16U Showcase traveling softball squad.
The team, which includes local standouts Lexi Zappitelli, the 2013 Star Beacon Ashtabula County Player of the Year from Conneaut, and Taylor Rowe and Sam Blashinsky (his daughter), is spending the summer traveling the country.
This past weekend, for example, the Outlaws Silver were in Philadelphia. They’ve already played a tournament in Chicago and last weekend, Dayton, where they earned a bid in the 16U USA-ASA Nationals, set for August in California.
“There are so many opportunities for girls out there,” he said by telephone from his hotel room in Philadelphia. “What I’m learning is our girls from Northeast Ohio are just like girls anywhere — they are talented, work hard and play well — but all they need are more opportunities to be seen.
“That’s what this kind of showcase team is all about — getting as many college coaches as possible to see our kids. By doing that, it opens up many doors as far as generating more and more opportunities for them.”
Not that playing the travel ball that is the norm is anything less, Blashinsky stressed.
“Not at all,” he said. “Travel ball has always been, and always will, be a very, very important part of a player’s development and it’s a great thing.
“All what we are doing is taking the same concept, but taking our girls to the tournaments and events where they can be seen by even more eyes than they would, normally.”
Apparently, it’s already paying off. One of the hurlers for the Outlaws Silver is Cheyenne Eggans. She has verbally committed to the University of South Florida — having just finished her sophomore season as a standout hurler at Mathews High School.
“Cheyenne’s exactly the kind of situation we’re talking about,” Blashinsky said. “She and the rest of the girls are being seen by more and more coaches, which give them more exposure and, in turn, perhaps more opportunities.”
One of Blashinsky’s assistant coaches on the Outlaws Silver is Pam Dreslinski. One of the best players to ever put on a uniform in Ashtabula County, the former Edgewood High School and Hofstra University star is proving invaluable, Blashinsky said.
“As we are having this conversation, Pam is having dinner with some college coaches,” he said. “And her abilities... they don’t get any better than Pam Dreslinski.”
Blashinsky, a 1986 Jefferson graduate, and his wife, Stacy (Thomas), have many interests in terms of their livelihood.
The couple, which also has a younger daughter, 12-year-old Abbey, who will be a seventh grader at Braden Junior High to go along with Sam, a sophomore-to-be at Edgewood, own several car-wash businesses in Northeast Ohio.
Included among them is Lantern Beverage and Car Wash, located at 122 N. Chestnut St. in Jefferson. Construction equipment has been spotted at the location the past several weeks.
“We’re expanding,” Blashinsky said. “We added more parking along the south side of the building and we enlarged it.”
And for good reason.
“We’ve added more room inside because we are bringing in a Tommy’s Jerky Outlet inside the store,” he said. “We’re basically renovating the inside of the store.”
The Blashinskys own eight car-wash businesses in Northeast Ohio, including one in Ashtabula.
“We own the Outback Auto Wash (located at 2116 E. Prospect), then go as far south to Boardman and west to Painesville,” he said.
And Stacy comes from the Thomas family of Thomas Fence Co. Inc. fame.
“That’s (Stacy’s siblings) deal,” Dave said with a laugh.
Blashinsky wanted to make sure the wrong impression isn’t given about the Outlaws Silver.
“One of the things I’m learning is that our girls in our area as just as good as those anywhere,” he said. “The more players I see from around the country, the more it makes me think, ‘our girls are just as talented as they are anywhere.’
“This really is a huge network out here, and for us to be able to get our foot in the door, it can only help our girls. It can maybe help them to go places perhaps they would not have the opportunity to, otherwise.”
Such as Sunnyvale, Calif. for the USA-ASA Nationals from July 28-Aug. 4, though it takes a huge commitment in terms of time and funding.
“No question about it, it’s not easy,” he said. “But in the end, I believe it’s all worth it.”
And that makes it a wash.
McCormack is the sports editor of the Star Beacon. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.