Todd Seidlar has a different approach to building a travel baseball team – go to the local area.
It’s not a radical approach, said Seidlar, technical director of State Line Stars 13U. But it does stand out.
“The competition and the teams we’re playing against, some of which will get the kids to play,” Seidlar said. “They pull out hundreds of miles to have kids.”
Cedar, a resident of temperance, prefers what is in his backyard.
State Line Stars is built with children from southeastern Michigan and northwestern Ohio.
“We’re pulling out of a radius of about 35 miles,” Seidlar said. “We were set up in this local area. Most of them have been together for 3-4 years now.”
This did not harm the team’s ability to compete against the best.
Sedlar recently finished their summer travel season with a 48-7-1 score and their eighth championship title. The stars won the championship at the Perfect Game Gulf Coast World Series July 12-15 in Destin, Florida.
The State Line Stars won championships this summer in Michigan, Indiana and Ohio, collecting eight championship rings and finishing second in a ninth place.
“We are a group of local boys making some waves on a national scale, making a name for ourselves,” Seidlar said. “The teams we compete against and how they run their organizations – what we did was very special in comparison.”
There were 13 kids on the State Line Stars roster this year, most of them playing ball together since they were nine – Bryce Bisgrove, Ray Campos, Caegan Dixon, Landon Eckelberry, Trey Itnier, Owen Lloyd, two boys Mali, Brady Maxwell, Corbin Miller, Cheshton Seidler, Jet Smith, Braden Tonev and Nate Trunk .
State Line’s stars are young for their level. The team consists mostly of seventh graders with two sixth graders also in the mix. Every player on the team gets a chance to advance – another odd thing for travel teams.
“A lot of teams have buy orders, and it’s just a text display, so the kids only show up when they’re down on the playground,” Seidlar said. “Our whole year we’ve filtered our entire list. This is unheard of.”
The Perfect Game Gulf Coast World Series in Florida was the biggest tournament of the season for the stars.
The week of celebrations also included skill demonstrations where players performed in combination-like drills. Boys were tested on running speed, bat speed, exit speed, throwing the ball on and off the field, and pitching. Sedlar said Perfect Game uses the information to build a profile for each athlete.
“It all gets added to your profile when you go to these galleries,” he said. “This is how college recruiting often happens. … Perfect Game is like baseball at the youth and high school levels.”
In the tournament, the stars went 5-0, including twice winning the country’s No. 29 ranked team in the semi-finals and final. Stars outperform their opponents 42-14.
The pressure and atmosphere of the highly competitive tournament was a big draw.
“We wanted to push them,” Seidlar said. “We’ve always wanted to play in the Perfect Game tournament and felt like we had the team that could get out there and compete and make some waves.”
Seidlar, who played baseball at the University of Toledo, said he would love to see how the team responds to that kind of stress. Win or lose, it’s an opportunity to grow.
“Development, development and development is what youth baseball should be about,” he said. “If I win championships, that’s great, but at the end of the day, my goal as a head coach is to get them as prepared as possible for the next level. Right now, this is high school, but I played baseball in college and I want to give them a glimpse into that as well.”
Training the mental part of being an athlete is very important to Ceedlar.
Team training begins in November, but players spend very little time throwing baseballs until January.
Sedlar also purchased two books for his team to read and anatomy: “Relentless” and “Winning” by Tim Grover. Grover was the personal trainer for Michael Jordan and later Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade.
“I think that really helped them work on the mental aspects of the game,” Seidlar said. “This game is 90 percent mental. We really try to focus on that and a lot of kids loved it.”
Cedlar and assistant coach Chad Smith started the State Line Stars travel program to be different. There are four teams in the organization with plans to expand to seven next year.
Seidlar has trained the same group since they were nine years old.
“I really knew two years ago that we were building something special,” he said. “I wasn’t sure when that was. I didn’t say at 13 that we were going to win this and that, but development and maturity ended up happening. I wish you a good year with our kids and how hard they worked.”
State line stars are not currently ranked nationally, but that may change. Combined with its tournament success this summer, the team racked up four victories over the national-ranked teams and eight victories over the state-ranked teams. This included victories over the No. 1 ranked teams in Ohio and West Virginia, and the No. 3 ranked team in Indiana.
“I could see our growth throughout the year and that has continued,” Seidlar said. “We had the hiccups. We had seven losses, but of those seven losses, I don’t think there was a team that was better than us. But they are 13 years old and sometimes things just don’t go your way. It happens. A little bit of adversity helps you grow.” .
Most of the star players will return next year. The team hopes to win more episodes, but Sedlar hopes they’ll also take the time to enjoy the experience.
“Expectations are high, but there is a fine line in setting high expectations and believing in them, but not putting too much pressure on them,” he said. “We need to get out there and compete, but enjoy it.”