by Paula M. Riley

There may be plenty of snow on the ground, but for many in Chestnut Hill spring is in the air. Chestnut Hill Youth Sports Club (CHYSC) baseball practices and tryouts have begun with an enhanced program, new leadership and a renewed excitement and energy.

CHYSC, formerly the Fathers’ Club, has been organizing baseball instruction and leagues for boys and girls ages 5-18 for over five decades. Building on this history, a new leadership team has been formed to strengthen the program, engage more families and offer various playing environments.

Brien Tilley heads the CHYSC Baseball leadership team as the CHYSC baseball commissioner.

“We have been meeting since last December and have made great progress outlining an enhanced infrastructure and philosophy for our program,” Tilley said. “We are working together to reinvigorate what is a good baseball program, thanks to great volunteers like Joe Pie.”

For over 14 years, Pie oversaw Chestnut Hill baseball. Although a regular fixture at the games as parent and coach, many may not realize that it was Pie riding the tractor, raking sand, sweeping rainwater and lining fields. He dedicated countless hours to grooming the Water Tower fields and serving as the baseball commissioner and main organizer.

Today, the CHYSC baseball leadership team is sharing these duties and adding many others to their list. The group consists of local men and women with children of all ages who are committed to making CHYSC baseball the best program in the area. Some are former coaches and others are new volunteers excited to be part of the program’s “rebirth.”

This rebirth includes opening registration earlier, offering winter workouts, creating committees to distribute work, enhancing communications and creating standardizations in communication, player instruction and coaches’ training.

“We want to build upon what we have in place now and create a framework to provide multiple opportunities for players, coaches and volunteers,” said Tilley.

Ultimately, the leadership team wants to establish a program and process that is repeatable for the next generation.

The first step was getting registration ready by early January. This was accomplished. All players interested in intramural or travel ball should register at as soon as possible so planning for teams and opening day can be completed soon.

Next, the team created pre-season training sessions. Every Sunday in January and February, all CHYSC registered players, of all skill levels, interested in either intramural or travel ball are invited to these workouts for indoor fielding, pitching, and batting exercises. Sessions are open to players 8 years and older.

A key element of the training sessions is making them fun and engaging. Tilley wants to remind players and their families that in this age of many sport and online games, baseball remains a fun and exciting pastime.

For players interested in participating as a CHYSC player in MONTCO’s travel program, these Sunday sessions include player evaluations. These will be held on Sunday, Feb. 1, at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy (8:30 a.m. for 8- and 9- year-olds, and 10 a.m. for 10-, 11-, and 12- year- olds). Travel players must attend this session. Depending on registration, CHYSC will field four travel teams (9-year-old, 10-year-old, 11-year-old and 12-year-old).

The travel program is an important element of CHYCS baseball and growing in popularity each year. Players have had great success and challenges competing around the region. As this program grows, the leadership committee remains committed to intramural ball as well.

“CHYSC is a community program for everyone, and to us, T-ball is just as important as travel baseball,” Tilley said.

The third step of enhancing CHYSC baseball has been standardizing instruction. Efforts are being made to ensure that at each level, all players be introduced to core fundamentals of the game. Therefore, when a 5-year-old completes a T-ball season, he or she will have received uniform instruction on introductory baseball concepts. The same will happen at each level of intramurals: Rookie (6-8 years old), Minors (9-10 years old), Majors (11-12 years old) and Seniors (13 and older). A similar approach will be applied to the travel teams and all instruction will be delivered in a fun and developmental environment.

A coaches’ committee has been established and tasked with identifying these fundamentals and ensuring that coaches are adequately trained and prepared to teach these to players.

Other committees established by the leadership team include communications/marketing, volunteers, tournament and fundraising. Tilley and his peers are committed to improved communications with the all families involved. They have established communication standards and begun examining volunteer roles. Multiple opportunities for volunteer engagement are being defined so people can participate in the program in a manner that meets their families’ needs.

“To us, it’s simple,” Tilley said. “We are going to do all the work in the world to improve the program. We have an excellent foundation upon which to build. It’s going to be a great year for Chestnut Hill baseball.”

Then he added, “Make sure to tell them to register NOW.”