2012-07-06 / Team Leominster

The Legion Family

STORY BY ROSS MONTOLIO
PHOTOGRAPHY BY GARY FOURNIER


John Joseph tossed the first pitch and talked to players of Leominster Legion Post 151. John served in the United States Air Force for the Korean War and is the proud grandfather of Kevin Barnaby, Legion head coach. John Joseph tossed the first pitch and talked to players of Leominster Legion Post 151. John served in the United States Air Force for the Korean War and is the proud grandfather of Kevin Barnaby, Legion head coach. sports and togetherness go hand in hand. Nothing could describe togetherness better than the word family. A family is a close-nit group that genuinely cares for each other.

A family atmosphere is exactly what head coach Kevin Barnaby has been preaching to his Leominster Legion Post 151 baseball team ~ all season.

“Our biggest goal is to get them to become a family,” said Barnaby. “We try to get them to become familiar with each other and genuinely care about one another.”

Barnaby has been part of the Legion family since he was a member of the team during his high school years. Both he and his brother are coaches in the Leominster area, his brother is an assistant for the Leominster High School baseball team. When given an opportunity to be the head coach of the Legion team Kevin took the opportunity to continue what his father started.

“My dad coached us all the way through Babe Ruth and helped to start the Legion program, so we are trying to keep the tradition going,” said Barnaby.

Barnaby has been part of the Legion program for a decade now. He played four seasons and has been an assistant coach for the past six seasons. Coaching is something he enjoys very much and it keeps him going.

“The competitive fire is why I coach,” Barnaby said. “As a player I had that but once you stop playing it is still a part of you and coaching is a way for me to keep the energy.”

As of now, the team is 10-5 this season as a member of District 4, and the players believe its success is from the family mentality which Coach Barnaby preaches every day.

“The family atmosphere is my favorite part of playing,” said Brice Erickson, team catcher. “We struggled to find it early in the season but we are starting to get it now.”

Erickson graduated from Leominster High School this June and will be attending Tufts University in the fall, where he plans on playing baseball. He is in his third season with the Legion club and says it helps to prepare him for the college level.

“I get to play against some college kids here and the coaches know what they are doing, plus they have played college ball so they can tell you what to expect,” Erickson said.

Two other local players on the Legion club add veteran presence to the team. Both Kevin Griffith and Steve Colella have just finished their freshman year of college. Both players still enjoy playing Legion to work on their game and get better.

Griffith enjoys the Legion atmosphere, especially playing under coach Barnaby.

“You never know what you’re going to get,” Griffith said. “Everyone steps up at different times, so if you’re having a bad game he will make sure someone picks you up.”

Colella also attended Leominster High but said the family atmosphere is none like he has been a part of before.

“I like how we are so close, like a family,” Colella said. “There was some of that in high school and I even saw it a little more in college but nothing like how our team is together.”

The team has come together over the beginning course of the season. They began the season by winning their first five games. After a three game skid the team has turned it around and won four straight.

The goal for the team every year is to capture a state title. It is especially more important this season after the team came within one game of playing for the state title last season.

“It’s our goal every year” said

Barnaby. “We were one game away from playing for a state title last season. We have eighteen kids who are talented, great kids and very versatile.”

The Legion program has not won a state title since the 1970s.

Leominster Legion Post 151 will play their next home game at 5:30 p.m. Friday, July 6, at the Leominster Babe Ruth Field.s

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