Freshman makes varsity baseball

NT baseball adds new teams, allowing younger players to play at higher level

New conference trends have led to numerous changes within the New Trier Baseball program, including the rostering of a freshman on varsity for the first time in two decades.

New Trier implemented a new Junior Varsity team and Freshman-Sophomore team in addition to the existing Varsity and Freshman teams.

“It was definitely the trend that we saw our conference going in. It’s easier for me to keep more juniors in the program and develop players by giving them more playing time on different teams,” said Varsity Head Coach Mike Napoleon.

Because New Trier has many feeder and travel programs, baseball has had no trouble filling their two freshman teams in the past.

“I think the new teams help us keep good players in the program.” Napoleon added, “Instead of selecting certain players based on age, we can place them based on skill level and fit. It gave us the opportunity to place a freshman on varsity without worrying about cutting juniors.”

Being head and shoulders above his peers at the freshman and sophomore level, Alex Calarco gave the baseball coaches plenty of reasons to give him that varsity spot.

“Alex has been fitting in well with the guys and we’re showing him how things are done both physically and mentally,” said Junior Henry Pelinski. “It’s a privilege to be on this team and he has definitely earned it. He’s gonna play a big role for us this season.”

Napoleon had been reluctant to place a freshman on the varsity roster but saw Calarco’s potential.

“We were seeing that Calarco was getting along with the other players on the team early on, some of which can be attributed to his older brother who is a senior on the team. Most importantly, he is one of the best catchers in our program; he can compete at the highest level with our other varsity players.”

This opportunity was well deserved; Alex has spent countless hours working on his game to put himself in this position.

“I practice daily on my baseball skills and I started weight training this offseason. I’ve had a lot of good role models in my family like my brother Anthony, who has set a good example on how to train and work,” Calarco said.

“I really owe it to my parents and coaches for working with me to get to this point.”

The time commitment for baseball can be even more demanding than for other sports.

For a freshman on varsity, it can take extra effort to deal with the demands of a varsity sport at New Trier.

“The hardest part is probably balancing the academics with morning practices. I’ve had to adjust to waking up at 5:30 for practice, then still going to school and performing to the best of my ability in both.”

Despite being the youngest player on the team, Alex understands the common goal that New Trier baseball is trying to achieve this season.

“We’ve been putting in the work offseason and now in practices virtually every day of the week. I feel that we will be the most physical team out there at we have a really good shot at winning State.”

After a deep playoff run just last year, players are excited for what this new season may bring.

“No excuses, no plays off, and be ready for your opportunity,” Pelinski said, “We’re ready to get after it.”