When Chileno Valdez began coaching the CSRA Crusaders baseball team, the feeling he got from the players was that the sport was something they did for fun, not worrying much about wins and losses.
Three years later, the team of home-school students has trouble scheduling games. Schools feel they have nothing to gain by playing the Crusaders, who have played competitively with the area's private school teams the past two years.
Now Valdez is preparing to tackle a new challenge -- starting a baseball team at Evans Christian Academy, where he teaches life science.
In the past, students at Evans Christian who wanted to play baseball joined the Crusaders. The groups probably will mix again during the upcoming season because Valdez said he doesn't expect to have enough older players to field a varsity team.
Eventually, he would like the Crusaders and Evans Christian to split and for the school to join the Georgia Independent Schools Association.
He said the team this season would play in a home-school league based out of Atlanta.
Valdez said he would encourage his home school players to enroll at Evans Christian in hopes that he will eventually have enough players to fill out a varsity squad. He said he also has received interest from players in public schools.
"It's good to build this year and get them the practice time and to get them a little experience by playing with the home school (players)," Valdez said. "By next year, those guys that were playing home school and playing Evans Christian, we'll have enough to start that varsity team."
Valdez said his opinion of home school athletes has changed since he started coaching the Crusaders. He started with the notion that his players couldn't match the skill level of school teams.
But he soon found there was talent there. And the Crusaders boast several players who have earned college scholarships.
"I'm just glad to say that all my seniors got baseball scholarships somewhere," Valdez said.
Teams to raise cancer awareness
Greenbrier High School softball plays host to Harlem on Wednesday in what should be a special game. Wolfpack players will wear pink for breast cancer awareness and Harlem players will wear blue to raise awareness for colon cancer.
Proceeds from the game will go to the American Cancer Society. Greenbrier lay coach Mark Moseley is battling cancer.
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