The Cody Legion baseball team has had no shortage of talent in recent years.
This year four former standouts are back in the dugout with new roles. Parker Shreve, Jordan Wasia, Connor McLeod and Heston Williams, all critical to the Cubs’ string of state championships in recent years, are coaching in the program.
“It’s great having former players that want to come back and pass down their knowledge and enthusiasm for the program,” A team head coach Bart Grenz said. “All of them are doing a great job and the younger kids really appreciate having them around.”
These aren’t the first alumni to come back and coach for the Cubs, but they’re the most who have returned during the same season. All four also played together on the 2016 team.
“I think having former players helps the program,” Wasia said. “We know what the A team coaches expect of the kids for when they move up so we’ve been able to teach them.”
Current A team player Devyn Engdahl agrees.
“I think having a former Cub that played in college helps the team a lot because he went through the same program that we are going through so he can help us based off of what he did while he was playing for the Cubs,” he said of Shreve, the A assistant. “He has a lot of fun with us, but is also a great coach and he has helped the team a lot this year.”
A 2016 graduate, Shreve was a key member of the Cubs’ 2014 and ’15 championship teams. He attended Iowa Western Community College and pitched during the Junior College World Series in 2018. He currently plays for Union University in Jackson, Tenn.
Earlier this spring he was contacted by Grenz about being an assistant for the A team.
“I got a text asking if I was coming home for the season and I didn’t know at the time,” he said. “I was thinking about staying there to work, but then Covid happened and I decided to come home.”
McLeod was part of the 2015, ’17 and ’18 championship teams. He graduated in 2018 and attends the University of Wyoming.
“I just wanted to still be part of it,” he said. “I missed it and told him if he needed someone I was willing to do it.”
Currently attending the University of Wyoming, Wasia is the B assistant coach. He was part of the Cubs’ 2015, ’17 and ’18 championships.
“Back in November coach Grenz asked if I wanted to coach and I told him I would,” he said. “It was hard at first because we could only practice with the limited number of kids (early pandemic restrictions), but it’s been fun.”
Williams is serving as an assistant coach for the C team. He graduated in 2019 and was a member of the 2017 and ’18 title teams. He currently pitches for Mount Marty College in Yankton, S.D.
“I was still at school when coach Grenz texted and asked if I wanted to be coach,” he said. “I was part of the program for five years and had a great time. I want these kids to have the same experience I had.”
Shreve hopes to eventually coach in college and looks at his time with the Cubs as a stepping stone.
“It wasn’t hard to come in since I know most of the kids from when they were younger,” he said. “The biggest challenge has been the terminology, going from college terminology and simplifying that in a way everyone can understand.”
And it’s not just the terminology Shreve tries to keep simple.
“Basically it’s about not getting too complicated and being in control,” he said of what he tells the pitchers. “They’ve improved a lot from their first bull pens when they were barely throwing 30 pitches.”
Engdahl said Shreve has made himself and his teammates better pitchers.
“Having Parker as a coach has really helped me with my mechanics pitching this year,” he said. “He knows a lot about the game and has a lot of information to give us. He has showed me a lot of things and how to fix myself when I am missing spots pitching.”
Wasia also plans to coach in the future and has enjoyed the experience.
“I’ve learned a lot about coaching,” he said. “It’s been fun getting to know the kids and help them become a team and improve this year.”
He said it’s great watching the team grow closer. Each year the B group tries to do a bonding activity away from the field. This year it was mini golf, with the players challenging the coaches.
“I won in my group and Beau (White) won in his,” Wasia said. “Everyone was having a good time and they all get along well.”
McLeod is in his second year as a coach for the program. Last season he served as an assistant for the B team before taking over as the head coach for the C squad this year.
“I think it’s much harder to be a coach because you have to think about a lot more,” he said. “When you’re a player you show up and go. As a coach it’s all about the details.”
Working with B head coach White his first season was a good experience.
“Being the B assistant under Beau was cool and I learned a lot,” he said.
Taking over the C team has been a change for McLeod.
“It’s been fun and a lot different than being an assistant coach,” he said. “There’s a lot more control and more to worry about.”
One thing that’s been key for Williams this season as a coach has been patience.
“I definitely look at baseball from a different point of view now,” he said. “It’s all about the little things.
“When you’re a player you just show up and play the best you can. As a coach you have to worry about things like pitch counts and putting players where you think you’ll have the best chance to win.”
Since the players on the C squad are moving up from Little League, learning the Legion game is an adjustment.
“It was hard at first to get the team going because so much was new to them,” McLeod said. “It’s a lot better than when we started. They’re all young 13 year olds so it takes a little more time to figure things out. But they’ll get bigger, faster and stronger.”
Williams said he’s enjoyed being part of the team this season and watching the players grow as individuals and as a group.
“It’s rewarding when the players finally get something they’ve been struggling with and you see how happy it makes them,” he said.
Wasia hopes to pass along to his players some of what he learned from his former coaches.
“I’ve always had a great appreciation for all my coaches I’ve had in the past,” he said. “They taught me a lot and not just on the baseball field but in life.”
Shreve is enjoying working with his former coach.
“He gives me a lot of freedom at practice to plan or game plan,” he said. “With pitching, no one’s the same. So I show them the way that works for me and they show me what works for them.”
He’s enjoyed seeing the improvement they’ve made this year and how they’ve come together both on and off the field.
“I always enjoyed hanging out with my teammates and sharing a love of the game,” he said. “It’s great to see what a tight-knit group they are. I hope to see them carry on the Cody tradition of success.”