When viewing young talent, the critical eyes have it

May 18, 2004|by BOB PARASILITI

I'm a novice when it comes to this fatherhood thing.

Actually, I just got my card upgrading me from rookie status. There weren't any tests or papers to fill out. My field promotion was granted when Brianna, my nine-year-old stepdaughter, signed her name with "Love" in front of it.

But I have done a lot of studying in my quest to make the grade in front of my personal promotion board. Any father will tell you that you have to watch to learn.

Just the other day, I was watching Brianna as she tried to figure out the secret of her new skateboard. She was wearing her purple bike helmet while trying to become the next Toni Hawk.


It's a long way off.

Brianna has also become fond of tumbling. She shows off with a variety of headstands and leg splits, with hopes of perfecting the art - a la Mary Lou Retton - with some gymnastics classes.

When kids have dreams, it's amazing how it starts their parents - even newly recognized novices like me - imagining a future, too.

It's probably the same feeling that surrounded Hagerstown's 2000 PONY League All-Stars as they competed in the international World Series in Washington, Pa.

Most everyone - especially their parents - knew this group of players had talent. They had to, or they wouldn't have been named to the team. But parents have this habit of seeing their athlete to be more talented than they really might be.

That's where a critical, unrelated eye can step in. In 2000, that man was Rick Suder.

I remember covering the PONYs that year, meeting the players that I had known only as names printed in the Herald-Mail's youth league roundups.

They were young gentlemen who loved baseball, and more importantly, liked hanging out with each other.

Suder was keen to the cohesiveness of his makeshift unit. Half of his battle was licked. Most of the time, the manager of an All-Star team has to turn talent into a team. He already had a team with talent.

Suder knew he had something special with this group. There were players who showed they could become far better players after their PONY experience.

"They wanted to have fun ... there wasn't a troublemaker among them," Suder said. "Some kids peak about the time they hit PONY League, but all of them kept improving and they all did it in different sports, too."

They showed glimmers of it then and Suder's view wasn't tainted by a favorable parental eye.

Somehow, he knew that team of 15 players plus one injured teammate would be making noise on the baseball field in years to come.

This is that year. Ten of those players have had a large impact on the face of local high school baseball this year. They all can have a large say in how their respective teams do in the Maryland playoffs.

And for at least three of them - Nick Adenhart, David Miner and T.J. Hose - baseball is still in their future.

It's a rare instance when so much talent comes together naturally. Luck, fate, genetics and timing make it all the more amazing.

Rick Suder would be the first to tell you he was lucky to be in his situation. Even though he wasn't a parent to any of those players, he had a hand in helping the young athletes along the path of success.

I can only hope I have the discerning eye to help Brianna find and hone her hidden talents.

Then maybe I might earn another promotion in the fatherhood ranking system.

Bob Parasiliti is a staff writer for The Morning Herald. His column appears every other Tuesday. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2310, or by e-mail at

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