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Exclusive Interview: Nor-Gwyn Manager Kevin Manero, Part 1

We're proud to present another exclusive interview to our site.  Kevin Manero, the manager of the Nor-Gwyn Hawks of the Bux-Mont League in Region 2, has been gracious enough to answer some of our questions and give visitors some insight into legion baseball coaching.  Kevin has managed some of the finest teams in the state for the last nine years, including coaching his team to the 2005 PA state title.

The interview is quite lengthy so we'll post it in sections over the next few days.  We hope you enjoy it as much as we have!  As always, if you'd like to leave a comment on the article for Kevin to read, please feel free.  You can also send any comments or questions to our email and we'll forward it to Coach Manero.  Thanks!


Your team had another successful season last year in the Bux-Mont, claiming the regular season title.  The team had a more difficult time in the league tournament dropping two one-run games to #8 Perkiomen (the eventual runner-up) and #5 Pottstown.  Did those close games help motivate your team for the Region 2 Tournament?  What as a coach did you say to your team after the abrupt turn of events?


Coach Manero

First, I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to do this interview. The players, families, and communities that keep Legion baseball going are first rate, and as a coach, I am grateful to have the opportunity to work with so many great people in this game.


I think a big part of our success during the regular season was our veteran experience and our depth on the mound. Legion is a rigorous schedule, and on top of what we play in the league we like to get as many non-league innings in as possible, so being able to do that requires a lot of arms; our pitching staff really rose to the occasion last year, and winning 20 games in the league during the regular season to clinch a spot in Regionals is very important, because the Bux-Mont Tournament can be grueling and can often serve as a big hurdle on the way to Regional play. I don't know what the percentages are through history, but I would guess that the #8 seed has knocked off the #1 seed in this tournament a lot more than people think. Like Perkiomen had last year with Tim Mayza, the #8 seed often has at least one very strong arm, and in baseball, no matter what the records of opposing teams may be, any team can lose on any given day when they face a good pitcher. Pat Carbone was equally as strong, but Perk found a way to score one more run that night, in what was a very competitive brand of very good baseball.

After winning so many one run games during the regular season, it was tough to drop two one-run games in the Bux-Monts, but it did afford us the opportunity to get a very good week of practice in, and we were able to go into the Regions 2 Tourney rested and refocused. We had to remember that the year before we faced a similar situation and turned it into a very positive result. We had a meeting the morning after the Pottstown game to set up what the next week would look like, and we made sure we were all on the same page. Those two losses were tough, but we really did play well, and sometimes in the game of baseball, that's what happens. So as soon as the last pitch of the Pottstown game was thrown, it was time to move forward. Game one in Regionals was a 12 inning battle with the would-be Region 2 runner-up, and then we played very well in a pair of wins the next two days. So, overall, I thought we did most of what we needed to do to at that level, but of course Pennridge was playing very well at the time, and they did a little more.


The Hawks won two games at the Region 2 Tournament before being knocked out by Bux-Mont postseason champion Pennridge.  Could you talk briefly about your thoughts on Pennridge last year?  In your opinion does their emergence help solidify the Bux-Mont as one of the premier leagues in the Mid-Atlantic?

Coach Manero

Pennridge was very strong last year. They really did not have any tough outs in their lineup, and their pitching depth was impressive. Their SS/C, Dylan Tice, is one of the best players in the state, and he is going to have a very bright future in baseball. He's a tremendous player and a first rate person as well. I think the team was reflective of that demeanor and that approach to the game, and I believe Pennsylvania was very well represented in Mattoon, IL last summer. Pennridge's success added to the reputation of our league. There are few opponents on our league schedule that are not a challenge every time we match up. I believe the league is well run, it is consistent, we have quality facilities, and we have several teams who could legitimately make a run at a Regional berth every year.


What are your thoughts on the upcoming season?  Should we expect to see another deep postseason run?

Coach Manero

After this winter, the 2011 season couldn't start soon enough. We are looking forward to getting out there and getting the work in that we need to be prepared for another season. In terms of personnel, we have a solid veteran core, and a good crop of excited new players joining the nest. Certainly we graduated a lot of experience after last season, and we have positions, innings, and at-bats to fill, but I like the desire and the buy-in we have on the roster right now. We will focus on the little things, work very hard to play the game the right way, try to get better every night, and let the results emerge from that approach.


Nor-Gwyn will be hosting the 2011 PA Region 2 Tournament in July after a successful hosting job a few years ago.  For teams that may be considering bidding on a tournament in the future, what kind of work goes into hosting that type of tournament.

Coach Manero

In 2009, we formed a Region 2 Tourney planning commission and met monthly starting in the Fall before the tournament. This year, we have done the same and have been meeting since January. More than anything, it takes good people and a lot of hands on deck. Our parents, organization, and community came through in 2009 and devoted a ton of their heart and their time to help us put together a great Regional Tournament. More than anything, it takes people. There are a lot of duties to complete from making sure the trash cans are emptied several times a day, to making sure ticket sales are managed. Our president, Mr. George Wicks, did an outstanding job of overseeing this committee and making sure they we were more than ready to get it all together.


Hostelley Field, home of the Hawks, is one of the finest legion facilities in the state.  What type of benefits does your program get from having a field of that caliber? Are opponents more willing to play you at home because of the quality of the field?

Coach Manero

Once again, I give a ton of credit to the Nor-Gwyn organization for maintaining such a first rate facility. Our field director, Dave Sevcik, and many others on our board have a lot of pride in our facility and have a genuine desire to carry out the visions that Ben Hostelley had. The benefits of having such a facility are that it is a great venue for college coaches and scouts to come and do their work, it is a comfortable place to call home and we are able to recreate an almost minor-league type atmosphere up there every night, it is very fan friendly, and it helps us in being able to host events such as the Region 2 Tournament, and perhaps bigger ones down the line. I do believe opponents like coming to play at Hostelley; certainly hosting regionals adds to that since teams like to get a shot to play on the field where they hope to be playing again in July.

Thank you for reading part one, the second half of the interview will be posted in the next few days.

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