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PSL Softball: There’s more to do

Cass Tech Head Coach Julie Schneider (background) with one of her players,  Dejah Darkins, during PSL playoffs.  CHUCK JOHNSON PHOTOS

Cass Tech Head Coach Julie Schneider (background) with one of her players,
Dejah Darkins, during PSL playoffs. CHUCK JOHNSON PHOTOS

PSL East coaches King and Schneider feel there’s still room and a need for improvement.

By Harry M. Anderson, Jr.
Special to the Michigan Citizen

(Part three of four)

Both Ivan King and Julie Schneider enjoy their jobs as PSL coaches. In fact, they really don’t see them as jobs, but as a chance to work in the sport they love with Detroit’s kids.

Although they’re happy with their position, they want to see their teams get better, not just within the league, but in the metro Detroit area.

“We did much better than we had in years (but) I want our team to still improve,” King said.

The same goes for Schneider, who shared with the Michigan Citizen, “I want Cass Tech to get better.”

Schneider says she works toward that goal through fundraisers and grants.”

Cass Tech recently was awarded $10,000 from Comerica Bank in March. The check was split between the baseball and softball teams.

“We were able to get the school a pitching machine … new uniforms, helmets and carbon fiber baseball bats,” Schneider said. “We have the traditional candy sales, but we also have concessions after school. We do enough work to try to raise funds. Running a team takes plenty of work.”

King agrees.

“When spring time comes you get very little sleep,” he said. “You burn the candle at both ends because you want the best for your teams.”

King explained he took the task of fertilizing the field and mowing the lawn at the Denby playfield. He even smoothes the dirt in the infield so his girls won’t turn their ankles, injure their feet or twist their knees.

“I’m not just the coach, but I’m a teacher in the building,” king said. “I care about the kids on the team and in my classes because it’s about education and team sports. I feel they have a future.”

Both coaches take their coaching paychecks and put it toward their teams. King purchases equipment the team needs. He sometimes gets donations.

“Only 15 percent of the girls on the team have gloves,” King said. “Comerica Park provided us with gloves.”

King says his school doesn’t have an indoor facility or batting cages so he takes the girls to an indoor facility in Macomb County to practice their hitting and pitching.

“Another problem is that I can’t find too many girls who can pitch. We only have one player on the team that can,” he said. “We have girls who can play, but it will take … time to get them on the competitive level with the suburban and Catholic teams.”

Pre-high school training is a must

Both King and Schneider agree there’s need for feeder programs to develop players before they reach high school.

“Feeders are an important vehicle because the earlier you get them playing the better they get when they reach high school,” King said.

“Although some of the girls have played the game before they met me, a feeder school with a softball team will give the girls some experience before ninth grade,” Schneider added. “It will be a great start if we had feeder teams in DPS.”

Schneider says she and King are considering forming a PAL team for their players and other girls in the league, but there are some things that King and Schneider don’t have control over.

Denby has changed over the last eight years. For example, when King came to Denby in 2005 there were close to 3,000 students at the Northeast Detroit school. That number has dramatically decreased to 850.

“The interest to (build) a team is there, but the pool of numbers is getting smaller,” he said. “The migration of middle class families to the suburbs, changes in the auto industry and the closing of manufacturing facilities has had an effect on the school.”

Both coaches are striving to make the PSL a better league for softball.

“It’s how important you take your team and how you put things in a proper perspective,” Schneider concluded.

“We at Denby are always striving to [get] better because we want something good for the girls to look forward to,” King said. “When the players come back and coach our kids when we retire, that will be a good sign for PSL softball.”


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