Warriors junior Legion club is up and running

Larry Vanover

Larry Vanover had the idea to begin a Post 9 junior American Legion Baseball team about four years ago, but didn't have the funding and wasn't comfortable about naming a field manager at the time.

Now he has both.

Thanks to contributions from the Michael E. Horn Foundation and the selection of Jeff Wimsatt to direct the club, the Owensboro Warriors -- a collection of area players ages 13-15 -- are playing baseball this summer.

"My original goal was to expand this program and allow another 15 to 20 kids to participate," said Vanover, the director of the Legion program and still a Major League Baseball umpire and crew chief. "The more kids we can get involved with playing summer baseball in Owensboro, the better.

"We've got some good people in leadership positions, the Warriors have a 25-game schedule, and all home games will be played at (Shifley Park's) Jack Hicks Field. We believe we've built a solid foundation on which to build for the future."

And build, American Legion Post 9 continues to do.

"This is an important step for our program, as a whole," Vanover said. "We're trying to run this thing as professionally as we can, get as many kids involved as we can, and make American Legion Baseball the best we can make it in our community."

Partnering with the Horn Foundation, of course, was a significant step in the process.

"I've had a number of meetings with them, and I've discovered that their ideals match up with ours," he said. "What we're trying to do is promote patriotism, honor, discipline, and instill quality values in kids, something that is, of course, greatly needed in today's world.

"One of the Horn Foundation's primary goals is to benefit kids in the Owensboro-Daviess County area, and, of course, that's what we're trying to do as well. It's been a very good partnership and I hope it continues for years to come."

Wimsatt will be assisted on the Warriors staff by Kevin Keown and Caleb McIntire.

"It's a great collection of coaches, they're really good people, and I feel very comfortable with the leadership we have in place," Vanover said. "I believe those guys are going to step up and do a great job for us."

Also new to the Legion program this summer is the addition of Rusty Tichenor, the former Fellowship of Christian Athletes Northwest Kentucky director, who will serve as team chaplain for the Post 9 Bombers and work with the Warriors, as well.

"We're very excited about having Rusty with us," Vanover said. "He's excellent at what he does, and he will be doing some mentoring with these kids, which I believe will be greatly beneficial."

Vanover sees the Legion program on an upward and onward projection.

"If not for (Bombers manager) Matt Freeman and (general manager) Scott Dotson, I couldn't do it with all the time I spend on the road," Vanover said. "They put in a lot of time and effort to run this program on a day-to-day basis the right way.

"A lot of progress has already been made, and I'm very pleased with the direction we're going in. We're not finished. We're going to keep working and see where we can take it from here."

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