The Cut Bank Baseball Association program has been in existence for over 50 years. This successful program allows boys and girls from the age of four to 14 to enjoy t-ball, baseball and fast pitch softball.
In the last several years, this program has seen an average of 130 kids playing each season, which runs from April through May.
While it is great to have some pretty impressive numbers of kids joining the program, it is equally impressive to have so many coaches willing to give time and energy to help these kids learn the sport.
Three of the coaches lending their expertise and experience to the kids have combined over 40 years of coaching experience in the Cut Bank Baseball program. Pat Biegler, Jermey Burke and Jimmy Littrell may have gotten into the program because they have kids of their own that were involved, but they stayed coaching for the love of the game, the joy in teaching the kids and the fun.
Jermey started coaching t-ball when his oldest daughter Sam was five years old. She is going to be a senior at Cut Bank High School this fall. “I moved from coaching t-ball to coaching fast pitch softball minors for the girls and then majors for the girls. I switched for a year and coached my son Damien in baseball. Boys are a lot harder to coach than girls,” he said laughing.
“Then I moved back to coaching major girls and that is when Jimmy Littrell and I teamed up to be coaches together.”
“I started coaching the kids when they were playing sports at the age of five. I have coached Coalter, Sydnei and Darci in either minors and majors fast pitch softball, minors and majors baseball, soccer, flag football and basketball,” shared Jimmy.
“I have been both head and assistant coach, which at that level, I don’t think head or assistant means much to the kids as long as you are involved,” he smiled.
Pat has time involved coaching his own kids in this program, but also played in this program as a youngster too. “I became involved in the Cut Bank baseball program when I started playing boys’ minor league at the age of seven. When my son Josh was old enough to play boys’ minor baseball, I couldn’t wait to get back into the program and share my expertise and enthusiasm. I am still coaching 15 years later even though my son last played seven years ago. He is now one of my assistant coaches,” said Pat.
Cut Bank Baseball is all about teaching the kids the sport, helping them understand the benefit of teamwork and what it means to be good sportsmen or sportswomen.
“I love seeing the excitement of the close games, winning or losing, it is fun seeing the emotional drive in each kid,” said Jimmy. “The amount of sportsmanship that the kids show when the games were over and the relationship the kids develop with other towns, is amazing. Being able to be part in all these kids’ lives is what made coaching fun for me.”
“The determination these girls have!! It is exciting to see and makes me a better coach because they are eager to learn more and fight hard,” said Jermey. “As coaches our jobs are to prepare the kids for high school to make sure they understand the game and the fundamentals. Since we have started helping in this program, it has exploded with great talent and that keeps the younger girls excited and makes everyone want to come and watch.”
“The kids learn a great sport and get a little exercise,” said Pat. “My players get more than they bargained for because I love to practice, so we work hard and play aggressively,” said Pat.
“They learn strategies, learn how to keep score, etc. They also learn that it isn’t all about winning; we also are very good sportsmen. I enjoy sharing the knowledge and idea of teamwork with these young players. Maybe they will learn something other than just baseball that they could use to help guide them as they progress down the path of life,” he added.
But it isn’t just the kids that get something out of this program. This talented group of baseball educators are finding they get something out of this too.
“Coaching these young players is fun in so many ways. I enjoy watching these players develop and definitely get a sense of satisfaction when I see their confidence build,” said Pat. “Watching someone get their first hit, catching their first fly ball in a game, etc. Coaching is my release from my professional life. The boys can make you laugh, even when my day was beyond difficult. Some of the things they say, do, or come up with, is priceless.”
Jermey’s daughter Makenna will be an eighth grader this fall, “which will also be her last year in majors before entering the high school team. Sam will be a senior this fall. I missed a few games due to running practices and having games of our own, so I thought I would just follow Sam next year since it will be her last year of high school softball. But these girls, I don’t know really how to put it in words, but I really want to finish out coaching one more year,” he said.
“Coaching is a great way to get involved with your kids and their friends and get to know the kids that are part of your own kids’ lives. I was able to coach several kids all the way up and to see them come into their coordination and develop the knowledge of the game, was great,” said Jimmy.
“As a coach you get to interact with all types of parents and members of the community and it lets you see how the community stands behind the younger generation. Also, the other coaches from around the surrounding areas have become friends and it is fun to compare notes every once in awhile,” he added.
“We live in a small community and it takes a lot of volunteers to keep all the programs going. We are lucky we have so many parents willing to take the time and donate to all of these great programs,” Jimmy pointed out.
Jennifer Biegler, the current President of Cut Bank Baseball said the program, and the community are indeed very fortunate to have many wonderful coaches taking the field with their respective teams.
“It is so great to have long-term coaches stay with the program for a number of years,” Jennifer said. “The benefit of that was evident this year in how successful our teams were throughout this season.”
Pat’s boys’ major baseball team went undefeated this season and the major fast pitch softball girls team coached by Jimmy and Jermey, “finished out on top with an undefeated season and were able to win the tournament as well,” boasted a proud Jimmy.
He added, “We have been able to create some great friendships with lots of people. But most of all, for me it has been the last six years coaching with Jermey. We have lots of great memories and lots of laughs and good times to go with them!”
These are the dads of their own kids and for so many other kids that have been a part of this program through the years. They have made a difference in a number of young lives and have made the Cut Bank Baseball teams, contenders and winners season after season.