ROCKPORT — A community member with a familiar face has been handed the reins of the varsity baseball program at Camden Hills Regional High School as a first-time head baseball coach.
Ben Rollins, 24, is a former Windjammer baseball player himself who played four years for the Rockport-based team and graduated in 2015. He then played four seasons of baseball at Northern Vermont University-Lyndon.
During his playing days, Rollins spent time defensively, working the mound as a pitcher and guarding both the infield and outfield.
“While I don’t have the most coaching experience, I can instruct them from first-hand experience which feels more genuine than something a coach got from a manual,” Rollins said.
He also has already established his primary goal for the program.
“I want to take Camden Hills baseball to a place where people know the guys are enjoying themselves and still taking care of business,” Rollins said. “It’s easy to have fun when you’re winning but the most important thing is to maintain that positive energy when the bounces aren’t going our way.”
Rollins intends to impart to his players the mental aspect of game training he received while playing baseball at NVU-Lyndon, training he described as particularly valuable for both on and off field situations.
“I know it can make a big difference for these young men for the rest of their lives,” he commented.
Following his playing career in 2019, Rollins graduated from NVU-Lyndon with a sports leadership degree and, as part of the degree program, he interned with the Martha’s Vineyard Sharks of the New England Collegiate Baseball League.
The itch to play baseball soon shifted to an itch to remain in baseball, either as a coach or front office personnel.
In early 2020, just before the pandemic, Rollins attended the annual American Baseball Coaches Association convention in Nashville, Tennessee, and returned to the Midcoast with a desire to coach high school baseball.
After the 2020 high school baseball season was scrapped due to the pandemic, Rollins opted to apply for the position at his alma mater.
“I thoroughly enjoyed my time playing baseball and [becoming a head coach] wouldn’t have been possible without the dedication of the great coaches I played for,” he stated. “I just hope to pass on what I’ve learned and give these guys an opportunity to be great.”
Rollins, who earned his bachelor’s degree in 2019, is confident he is qualified for the position, and understands where the game of baseball is today.
“Baseball needs to be fun; every player should be able to express themselves on the field,” he said. “You have to embrace the individual. If a coach is trying to get each guy to do the same thing then it simply won’t work. I have a very diverse group of players on the roster this season and I’m excited about what we can potentially do.”
At 24, his age gives him insight to his players are facing on a daily basis.
“I understand that some days can be harder than others for whatever reason and baseball can be a nice getaway from what’s going on outside the lines,” he said. “We’ve also been able to keep things loose by talking about which video games they’ve been playing or what classes they had that day. It’s been pretty fun to make the connection like, ‘Oh yeah, I enjoyed that class with that teacher, too!’”
Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Rollins reported that the program is running smoothly, and he is prepared to take a swing at any challenges as the season unfolds.
Home games for the Windjammers include an April 19 doubleheader against Oceanside and contests against Medomak Valley (April 26), Mount View (April 28), Brewer (May 5), Belfast (May 19), Morse (May 24), Lincoln Academy (May 26), Medomak Valley (May 28) and Belfast (June 2).
“People should get excited about Camden Hills baseball,” said Rollins. “We have a great group of guys throughout the program and I can’t wait to see what they do this season and beyond.”