Evan Wick (right) made fast friends with the players he met while competing with a national baseball team on a trip to the Dominican Republic.

By Dan Truttschel


With the start of the new school year this week, many high school students likely spent time talking about what they did on summer vacation.

Not many can say they left the country to play the game they love.

But East Troy’s Evan Wick can.

Wick recently returned from the Dominican Republic, where he competed with a national baseball team on a trip hosted by Caliendo Sports International, Chicago.

The 16-year-old came back with memories to last a lifetime and a drive to bring what he learned to his fellow East Troy teammates.

And that means lessons both on and off the field.

“As a player, it was like going to a camp every day,” Wick said in an e-mail interview. “Coach (Darin) Everson always said it was like being in the minors. Breakfast, bus, practice for two hours, lunch and game.

“Just to have the coaching of guys that really know their stuff and can correct and improve the little things is amazing.”

The experience went beyond just the ballpark, though, Wick said.

When the young player looked at his surroundings, he quickly realized life here in the States is pretty darn good.

“As a person, I hope (the trip) makes me more thankful for what we have here,” Wick said. “They play in hopes to get off the island and have a better life. I play because I love the game and competition.

“If they don’t make it, they have little. Many stop schooling in fourth-grade. One player hit two (long home runs), but after the game, couldn’t sign his name or grip the pen. When baseball ends for me, I have a lot of possibilities.”

Wick said he was invited to attend the trip by Everson, who runs the Elite Baseball Academy. Everson has been a player, coach and scout in the Miami Marlins system.

Joining Everson on the coaching staff were Dino Moran, who owns 3D Baseball, Hoffman Estates, Ill., and Al Budding, who played shortstop on three national championship teams at Ohio State University in the 1960s.

While the roster was full of other standout players from five states – Washington, Oregon, Minnesota, Illinois and Wisconsin – there was plenty of talent to go around, Wick said.

And that meant that playing time had to be shared among Wick and the three other catchers, but he certainly didn’t mind.

“I didn’t catch as much as I had hoped, although I did start the championship game,” he said. “Coach split time evenly.”

Wick said he also played left field, which allowed him to play all but four innings during the week.

Success on the field didn’t come easily for the American contingent, but that was to be expected, as the Dominican Republic is known for having talented baseball players.

And that fact definitely came to light during the trip, Wick said.

“The Dominican players are awesome,” he said. “Shots up the middle that are basehits were easy outs for them.”

Because of all that talent, Wick said every game also included a number of scouts from Major League Baseball, who were there to look at one player or another.

And that was just another part of the overall experience.

“Fridays are their big days when scouts come in,” he said. “Our game was delayed 45 minutes so they could finish their workouts. Then those kids stepped on the field to play against us. That’s intimidating, but cool.”

And certainly not a bad way for a young baseball enthusiast to spend a week during his summer vacation.


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