Pitchers and catchers, ball hitting the mitt, bats hitting the ball.
All signs of spring and coaches around the state are filled with expectations.
Shelton baseball coach Scott Gura, like many coaches, has an added sense of purpose.
“Coaching is a position; my career is as an educator,” said Gura, who teaches history at Shelton Intermediate School. “Each spring, our seventh graders take trips to Boston or Philadelphia. Eight graders traditionally go to Washington, D.C.
“This is an opportunity for the students to see firsthand how this country came to be, and how it continues to be governed. They get to understand that this country is only 250 years old, a blink in time.”
Gura, who led the Gaels to the Class LL state title in 2012, their first since 1976. schedules games around the trips.
“We went to Philadelphia on a Saturday and Sunday (May 5-6) and our trip to Washington was a Wednesday through Sunday (April 24-28),” he said. “I try not to miss any games.”
Gura’s love of history came from his father Howard, a longtime educator in Shelton and a Hall of Fame girls’ basketball coach.
“Dad is a history buff and took me to all the sites, specifically the Colonial times,” said Gura, whose Gaels won 9-of-10 games after an 0-5 start to the season. “It taught me so much and opened my eyes. When I began teaching, I wanted the students to see what I saw and not just Google up a person or a place to answer a question on a test.
“Seventh graders are taught history from Jamestown to the Civil War. Eight graders learn about the reconstruction period to present times.
“In Boston, they get to see everything from the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum to the Old North Church.
“In Philly, they go to Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, take a side trip to Valley Forge and the Amish country, and we finish up by running Rocky-style up the steps at the Museum of Art.
“In Washington, we head to the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, the United States Capitol, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and the White House.”
This year, 55 students went to Philadelphia and 150 took the trip to Washington, D.C.
“I’m now the coordinator for the Philly trip,” Gura said. “It was amazing to see the kids visit the Amish country and see people choose to live without electricity and embrace a different way of life.
“It has become sort of a rite of passage. The sixth graders can’t wait until it is their turn. As seventh graders, it might be the first time they have been away from home and they get to spend the night in a hotel with friends. It is the first step in becoming an adult.”
And after his students touch all the bases?
“I want them to be able to put all the pieces together, like a historical puzzle,” Gura said. “It is the little things. They get to have a personal account of what they are studying. Maybe, they ask one more question in class. Maybe some of it is for fun, but later it gets them to think. Maybe, they can go back to Google on their own and look up answers to questions that only they have interest in on a particular person or event.”
And maybe when they are all grown up, they pile their family into a car Vacation-style and head into the past.