Free baseball workouts offered on the West Bank

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 8, 2021

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EDGARD — West St. John Coach P.J. Millet remembers when St. John the Baptist Parish was known for fierce competition in the game of baseball.

This week, Millet began hosting free after school baseball workouts for children in the community with a goal to provide the youth with a positive environment to learn and develop athletic skills. As workouts continue into the summer and the fall, the long-term vision is to establish a feeder program for West St. John High School and bring baseball in St. John Parish back to its former glory.

The free workouts are being held from 4 to 5:30 p.m. each Tuesday and Thursday at the Juan Anthony Joseph Memorial Park in Edgard. All participants must bring their own glove and/or cleats.

Millet lived in Georgia from 2013 to 2019, and he would often check with friends and family back home to see how athletic programs were progressing.

“I’d always hear nothing but negative talk and how there’s a decline in sports, how there’s not much for kids to do and how kids aren’t motivated to do anything anymore. I decided to move back home and luckily got a job at West St. John,” Millet said. “Now, being in the community and still getting the same feedback, I’m just racking my brain as far as what I can do. Talking to my mentors, they knew I have a positive outlook as far as what can be done in the parish. I have the motivation and drive to go for it.”

Millet doesn’t mind putting in time for free to provide a positive outlet for the youth. It didn’t take long to realize that there is a need in the community; while the flier Millet put out about the workouts initially stated it was for ages 9 and up, parents called in and asked if the opportunity could be extended to younger children.

“I’m at the point now where I’m going to open it up to any kids that want to come and learn baseball. Even if there are 4-year-olds, we can start with the basics of catching and throwing. We’re also breaking it down to learn the game of baseball and how it’s played,” Millet said. “As you increase in skill and you enhance in maturity, then I can start to break down the IQ parts of the game, which brings you to a different level.”

Parents and community members are also invited to come out and serve as mentors for the youth. The more community involvement Millet gets, the more he will be able to expand the practice sessions and make the workouts position specific.

The first week of baseball workouts exceeded Millet’s expectations. Seven kids ages 8 to 14 came out to the first baseball workout on May 4, and others expressed that they will be attending as soon as they are able to get gloves and cleats. According to Millet, the children were passionate, ready to work and learn, and excited to have something to do after school.

Millet left the first practice session with a smile on his face and a feeling of excitement about what the future holds. From conversations with the St. Charles Catholic baseball coach, he foresees a resurgence of baseball on both sides of the river in St. John Parish.

“Baseball was our pastime. We still have those folks, maybe they are grandfathers now, but they still want to see their grandchildren groom into the game that they used to play, love and watch,” Millet said.

For more information, call Coach P.J. Millet at 504-250-5378.