Tournaments | Story | 5/23/2015

WM9: The program Wil built

Chris Garcia        
Photo: WM9

EMERSON, Ga. – Wil Myers is no stranger to Perfect Game events, having played in multiple with the North Carolina based team, the Dirtbags. Obviously, he experienced great success with these events, having been drafted in the third round by the Kansas City Royals and then going on to win a Rookie of the Year award in 2013 with the Tampa Bay Rays.

But Myers’s affiliation with travel ball would not end after his name was called in the draft. In 2013, what was formerly known as Yak baseball, became WM9 baseball. Nomar Garciaparra’s GBG baseball joined forces with WM9 during the beginning of its formation, but as of late WM9 has been trying to do their own thing. This weekend, multiple WM9 teams are competing in the WWBA Memorial Day at Lakepoint tournament in hopes of taking the right steps towards elite status among all travel ball programs in the country.

The idea to start his own travel ball program came to Myers when he was playing in the minor leagues, and once he finished his rookie year, he decided it was time to take the idea that he had always envisioned in his mind and make it a reality by forming WM9. WM9 offers teams ranging from the age groups of 8u to 17u, with two teams for every age group, and their signature team is the 15u team who is ranked in the top 25 among all 15u travel ball teams.

Their focus is to teach the kids sound baseball fundamentals; such as aggressive base running, conservative pitch counts, and giving 100 percent effort at all times. WM9 holds their camps and team practices at High Point batting center, which is owned by WM9 14u coach Chris Smith and his brother, Scott.

We have a great coaching staff who is teaching the kids the necessary fundamentals of the game, but also teaching them life lessons at the same time,” said Chris Smith. “We do our best to try to help these kids find their way through travel ball, high school ball, college ball, and hopefully beyond, such as Wil has done.”

Even though Wil Myers is an elite Major League baseball player with an extremely limited amount of time on his schedule, he is still able to find the time to come to the camps and individual team practices and personally teach these kids the brand of baseball that he and his coaching staff believe in. Myers also helps with sponsors, and supplying their players with top notch baseball equipment; such as Max Bat, his particular wood bat of choice.

These kids look up to him,” continued Smith. “To the parents, kids and everyone involved, it’s really special to see someone in the big leagues care as much as he does. His commitment to bettering these kids as athletes and young men is something that you don’t see every day from someone who is as busy as he is.”

The rare thing about having Myers so involved with the program is that he is able to take his knowledge and experience in the pros and provide these young players with unmatched insight. Myers is constantly learning new strategies and methods to better himself as a ball player, and he passes that new found knowledge to his players as he learns it himself.

WM9 is not only focused on teaching these kids the most effective way to play the game, they are also committed to teaching these kids how to be benefactors to society. WM9 checks report cards during the school year every nine weeks to ensure that their players are excelling in class, not just on the field. Academia is something that WM9 puts a lot of emphasis on, as well as giving back to the community.

We try to teach the kids about the importance of helping out and volunteering around the community,” said Coach Smith. “Playing good baseball is always the goal, but it is also extremely important that these kids learn how to exhibit good character.”

Although WM9 has experienced recent success as of late in multiple different state and national tournaments, one of the program’s, and Smith's, main desires is to achieve consistent success at Perfect Game events.

Accomplishment wise, we’ve won our fair share of state tournaments and have received some accolades that we’re proud of, but these big Perfect Game tournaments are what we really gear up for. We want to do more in tournaments like the one in Jupiter and Fort Myers (Fla.), so I guess you could say our best accomplishments are yet to come.”

Winning this weekend’s Memorial Day tournament at Lakepoint would be a fantast achievement, and they are certainly an intriguing program to watch for.

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