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Excelsior Scholarship Is A College Gamechanger For New York Residents (and Coaches)

April 26 – New York State is the first in the nation to make their public colleges tuition-free. The state recently changed the way that the SUNY and CUNY University tuition system is structured, and this will allow residents who have established their address here in New York for the previous 12 months and fall under specific income guidelines to take advantage of a tuition-free education. These changes can and should change the way Coaches at these Universities recruit ballplayers as well.

The Excelsior Scholarship comes with some specific requirements that prospective collegians must meet. Aside from the previous tenure as a New York State resident, the combined household income for the 2017-2018 application year must be under $100,000. For the 2018-2019 year that amount increases to $110,000 and for 2019-2020 it increases again to $125,000. PELL and TAP grants will be deducted from the tuition portion of the Excelsior Scholarship amount.

Prospective students must be enrolled full time, taking a 30 credit per year course-load total, not going below 12 credits per semester.  There will also be a minimum GPA requirement. If the program is a declared five year program, the Excelsior Scholarship will honor five years worth of tuition. Transfer students and students with associate degrees (2-yr degree, Junior College) are also eligible to receive the Excelsior Scholarship but must have taken 30 credits their prior year. Lastly, you will be expected to remain in New York State as a resident a minimum of four years (or a number of years equal to the number of years you received the scholarship) upon the completion of your degree, or all Excelsior Scholarship monies will be converted into loans.

This Scholarship should change the way all CUNY and SUNY coaches recruit players. Any prospective student-athlete who has the appropriate admissions requirements (GPA and SAT), meets residency and financial guidelines and has the athletic ability to compete at the level of the institution now can be viewed as a player who does not count against the allotted number of athletic scholarships that the coach has to distribute. For Division 3 schools, they become a more attractive destination to some athletes who would have gone lower D1 or D2, but would have had to pull the fiscal weight of tens of thousands of dollars in loans.

At the New York Nine, we look to remain at the forefront of the college process without charging our student-athletes thousands of dollars in “consulting fees” or a “percentage of the value of the scholarship the coach secures for the student athlete”. We don’t prey on parent/guardian fear, turning them upside down and shaking their pockets empty. We also have full access to one of the top college counselors around, who happens to be a multiple time NYC guidance counselor of the year recipient and personally has more awards and accolades than he has wall space. For a small organization who prides itself on top level teams, in less than a decade, our student-athletes have been offered millions of dollars in scholarship aid and have either signed or been offered over 50 professional contracts. We pride ourselves on helping New Yorkers use baseball to improve their lives and futures, and the Excelsior Scholarship is a great new avenue that we at the Nine will look at to save our players and families tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars.

5 Baseball Reasons You’re Causing Your Child To Be Over Stressed

In my decade and a half being committed to amateur baseball as a varsity head coach, collegiate pitching coach, professional baseball scout, unofficial draft advisor, elite level amateur coach and organizational head, I have seen, heard and been asked about almost everything. In this post I want to discuss a topic that often comes up – the cost of becoming a good enough baseball player to secure an athletic collegiate scholarship.

The cost I am referring to here includes both monetary and time – by that I mean the commitment of a significant amount of time, both by the parent and the child, to the pursuit of baseball excellence and an athletic scholarship. These two related costs often lead to the child and parent team focusing exclusively on, justifying the expense of, and ultimately expecting a specific result (an athletic scholarship). As a result, far too often the enjoyment of the game gets lost for both parties. There are five main concepts that can ruin the experience for both the child and the parent – while by no means are these the only five, they are the ones that in my experience happen with the most frequency.

First, the player will feel pressure to excel because of the time both they and their parent have invested. This is normal and part of playing baseball, but if you apply too much pressure on yourself, your performance suffers. While this may be something most people know already, a parent openly communicating with their child about not feeling over pressured or overly stressed because of the amount of time invested by either (or both) the child and the parent is the best way to alleviate pressure.

Second, the unrealistic expectation. This may be the most well-known and most-discussed topic within amateur baseball. Far too often, a parent is convinced their child is absolutely, unequivocally, the best player out there. When the child does not perform to the unrealistic expectation, the parent looks for any and all possible excuses. The parent blames the coach, or believes that the child is simply on the wrong team, or that the child isn’t practicing correctly, or practicing often enough. In two parent families, I’ve even seen one parent blame the other parent for the child’s inability to meet an expectation that cannot possibly be reached by the child. The primary result is that the child feels more pressure to perform each time the “excuse” is “remedied” (for example, each time the parent puts the child on a new team as the previous team was part of the problem in the parent’s mind). Also, many parents with unrealistic expectations end up embarrassing the child – every coach in amateur baseball can recall countless times that a parent has confronted the coach regarding their son, only for the son to later apologize to the coach for whatever it is that the parent said.

Third, generally directly related to the second – parents, looking for any reason why their son isn’t the star, will hire specialists. While there are many outstanding specialists out there and in the right circumstances, a specialist working with a child can be quite beneficial, there are also many unqualified ones who prey on well-intended parents in order to line their pockets, with no tangible benefit to the child. It seems that anyone who has played the game of baseball at any level feels they’re qualified to instruct or train players – but only if they are well-compensated for such instruction. Before seeking out a specialist, the best advice I can give is to “do your homework”– both in terms of the specialist in question (compare different specialists, ask coaches or instructors you trust for recommendations, etc.), but also in terms of whether it is right for the child (for example, asking the question what can realistically be gained by working specifically with a specialist). Most importantly, if the player isn’t having fun in the first place, or just doesn’t have the athletic skill, then even the best private instructors won’t make any difference.

Fourth, even a parent who has realistic expectations and does not throw money at a trainer to get the player better can still ruin the experience simply by reinforcing that “winning is the only thing that matters.” In this case, “winning” does not mean winning a game or a tournament, but rather, obtaining an athletic scholarship, or often times, an athletic scholarship to a specific university. Baseball is already an incredibly hard game to play and excel at – putting additional pressure on the child to perform (even with realistic expectations for the child) can often times detract from their enjoyment of the game and their passion to play. Not surprisingly, this can and will hinder their performance. It’s perfectly okay to push, but there is definitely a line, and a parent must be aware and conscious when you are pushing a little (for the child’s best interest), and pushing too hard (often for the parent’s own interests).

Lastly there is the relationship cost between the athlete and their parent. The same way the parent often blames others, the athlete sometimes blames the parent when the desired result isn’t achieved. They blame their parent for their loss of passion for the game, their inability to live up to and achieve the expectations placed upon them and for all of the time they wasted trying to achieve this result. In my opinion, this is the greatest cost, takes the longest time to repair (if at all) and correcting the strained relationship and resentment can take years and years. The best advice to prevent this possibility is open communication between child and parent at all times as to expectation and also as to what the child wants.

The bottom line is that baseball should be played for fun by people who love to play. Genetics and natural development play a huge role in how good a player can ultimately be. Parents have to have realistic expectations as to their child’s chances for an athletic scholarship (or in some cases, a professional contract). There is no reason to alienate yourself from your child because your version of reality is different than what is happening right in front of you. Unrealistic expectations and significant time and monetary investments can also often build a major sense of false hope for the player. Some players are never able to recover when they don’t get that scholarship to their dream University because of the false information they have been fed by their personal coaches, trainers, anybody else who has fiscally benefited from their development, and also because of the amount of time and money both they and their parents spent in order to become good enough to receive such an offer.

There is nothing wrong with paying people to provide the right guidance, instruction and information to your child. But there must be an honest dialogue between all parties (the parent, the child, and any and all coaches) about that player’s ability and whether there is a possible future at the collegiate or professional level. If there is such a dialogue, then the money will be well spent because the child will build character and a strong work ethic, even if there may not be a future for the child at the collegiate or professional level. However, without such a dialogue, then the parent risks firing hard-earned money into a furnace and destroying his or her relationship with the child.

Four New York Nine Alumni Drafted

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The 2014 First-Year Player Draft saw three former New York Nine pitchers selected. RHP Giovanni Abreu was taken in the 14th round by the Texas Rangers. Abreu features a fastball up to 94 MPH and a projectable frame. RHP Quinn Carpenter went in the 17th Round to the Toronto Blue Jays. Carpenter enjoyed a stellar season at Iowa Western Community College and will play baseball at Texas Tech should he not ink a deal. Lastly, LHP Nestor Bautista was selected in the 32nd Round by the Miami Marlins. Bautista, after tearing his labrum last year, had a 3.55 ERA this year at Ball State University in Indiana. Finally, SS Ethan Gross was drafted in the 26th round by the Chicago White Sox out of Memphis. We wish these four fine young men health and success as they begin their professional baseball careers.

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2014 Season News

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May has arrived and we are nearing our upcoming summer season. We know that all of our players throughout the area have been putting in quality work with their high school programs. It is an exciting summer because we have revamped our website, made significant changes to our rosters and have reorganized our coaching staffs at each level to maximize development, experience and at the proper ages, exposure. Our coaches will be in touch with players shortly as we prepare each individual team.

Lastly, coaches will be writing updates for each of their clubs through the season, with recaps, fun tidbits and team information. We hope this gives parents and players new insights into each team and makes everyone feel connected and part of our New York Nine community.

There are still very limited roster spaces for qualified student athletes. If you are still looking for a summer program and feel you have the skills and the quality of character to play with the New York Nine, please fill out a player questionnaire.

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Frank “Buddy” Paine Hall of Fame

We are pleased and honored to announce the Frank “Buddy” Paine Hall of Fame. Buddy exemplified quality of character, first rate work ethic and a lifelong commitment to the game of baseball and the men who played it. Those players with distinguished New York Nine careers will be inducted into the Hall of Fame named after one of baseball’s great ambassadors. Multiple year New York Nine members will be considered based on the following criteria: statistical excellence, quality of character and outstanding achievements you could try these out. We will have more announcements about the Hall of Fame in the coming weeks!

Website Reboot

With all of the snow that has fallen I think I can speak for all of us when I say we are excited for the upcoming 2014 baseball season. As the winter workouts and training camps wind down, our players continue to work at their respective high school programs and we are confident our New York Nine players will shine on the diamond this spring. As we remind our players to not only work hard but also work smart in all facets of life, we with the New York Nine must do the same. It is a hard climb to the top of any pyramid and it is even harder to remain there. We ask you to please continue to believe in the mission of the New York Nine as every year we aim to improve the already fantastic program we have. We offer a heartfelt thank you to all of our players, parents, coaches, mentors, alumni and friends who believe in and support our mission. I am thankful for you allowing us to translate the lessons baseball provides us into preparing our student athletes for life and teamwork that extend well beyond the playing field.

With that in mind, we have rebooted our website, reformatted our scheduling and wont leave any t’s uncrossed or i’s undotted. We ask you to look around the site, we have brand new biographies for our coaches, we will have up to date rosters with necessary information and each team will have their own blog so you can be caught up with all the news, information, photos and videos of each team. If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact us at info@newyorknine.org. Thank you all for reading, and supporting the New York Nine.

Ian Millman
President of the New York Nine

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