JEFFERSON — Over spring break, as many high school students were filling up on chocolate bunnies and absorbed into Netflix, Jefferson Area High School’s varsity baseball players were competing in Tarboro, N.C., at the Easter Classic. Directed by coach Scott Barber, the boys engaged in tough competition, strengthened their bond as a team and improved their skills as baseball players.
The trip only lasted from April 2 to April 5 but required a lot of preparation. Planning began last season when players and parents alike expressed interest in heading south for spring break. Fund-raisers consisting of football parties at Wildside, a restaurant located in Jefferson, and a baseball skills camp for children grades one to six were planned and utilized to help with the cost of the tournament. Likewise, precautions had to be taken.
“Some players need a certain talk about what is expected of them before you leave on a trip like that. Also parent contacts need to be in place in any case of emergency,” said Barber.
Luckily, Barber had much assistance in coordinating the event. Justin Smith, who played on Barber’s JAHS baseball team in the late ’90s, was appointed “tour director” and made sure that all events were arranged in an organized manner.
While many of the teams that competed in the tournament were already 15-18 games into their season, weather in northeastern Ohio prior to the Easter Classic did not permit Jefferson’s baseball team to practice outdoors.
“Our first game at the Easter Classic was the first day we had been on the field,” said Barber.
Although they were cooped up in a gym, Jefferson’s baseball team made the most of their practices.
“We just did our normal practices and worked harder to get ready for the teams we would compete against in North Carolina,” said Brett Powers, a senior three-sport athlete at Jefferson.