In 2017 Aaron, 11 years old, was unhappy and frustrated with his swing. He had been working with another very reputable program and Aaron had made some progress. Someone encouraged us to take Aaron to a new program in North Haven called DiamondZone. We set up an appointment for Aaron with Brett Bradanini. Brett spoke with Aaron about what he was experiencing at the plate, they tweaked his stance at the plate and the angle of his swing. He spent about 45 minutes with Aaron, music in the background, very relaxed, funny and calm. Fast-forward to Aaron’s plate appearance at the next game and Aaron hits his first home run. Aaron is not a home run hitter and Aaron didn’t expect to hit a home run that day. The smile on his face and the excitement is one he will never forget.
As Aaron’s time in Little League went on, he experienced some heartache and again, DiamondZone was there to help pick up the pieces. The coaches have all given Aaron pieces of knowledge, encouragement, good-natured ribbing and honest feedback in areas where he could grow as a player.
In 2018, Aaron was part of team that got to go to Cal Ripkin in Maryland. They won the tournament. At that time, we were able to engage in a conversation with Coach Tim Binkoski who offered us insight into his coaching philosophy. I sum that up with push them hard, challenge them, but give them enough success to keep them interested.
In the Fall of 2018, we were put on a rotating roster for Aaron’s first experience on the big diamond. He loved the opportunity to play all of the time. He met new people, played new positions and in general grew as a player!
Then came Spring season 2019. This is where learning to trust the coaches and the process is important. Aaron wasn’t part of the team that we thought he would take play with that season. We sat back and held our breath. We didn’t speak to the coaches. My husband and I had several conversations at home about trusting the process, do we stay or do we go. As we reflect, Aaron had a great team that season, it was the first time he had ever felt like he was a good baseball player. He was hitting the ball, playing in key positions, not finding himself on the bench. The parents and kids we played with were truly awesome. Coach JT, Coach Tim, and Coach Pete really understood what Aaron needed when they put him on the mound to pitch. Aaron gained such confidence, and we learned why Tim Binkoski and Brett Bradanini had placed Aaron on this 13U team. They knew he needed some confidence in himself and his baseball skills. They needed us, his parents to let Aaron trust them.
Finally, Fall of 2019 rolls around and Aaron is playing on a 14U team and a 16U call-up team, we are holding our breath hoping he can keep up. Can he keep the gained confidence even when things go awry? You know what, he did. Aaron made some notable plays from third and learned to catch-up to the ball as a hitter. He played well with the 14U team and enjoyed his 16U call-up opportunities. As a family, we made new friends, and we again trusted in the process.
After this pandemic we are looking forward to a Spring/Summer season in 2020 as Aaron has made their inaugural College Prep, tournament based DZ team!! Let’s go DZ!