Ian Thoesen knows what baseball means to the town of Wilton. A class of 1995 graduate from Wilton High School, Thoesen played for the Warriors varsity baseball team and returned to Wilton in 2000 to give back to the community that helped infuse him with a love of the sport. Thoesen has brought that passion as the head coach of Wilton Legion baseball for 11 years.
"I was born here. I grew up here," Thoesen said. "It's fun because you develop relationships with these kids. I've had some of them since they were little because I coached them in Little League too."
Legion baseball is intended for 17 to 19-year-old boys who want to continue playing after the relatively short high school seasons in colder climates end. Thoesen enjoys coaching Legion because he can utilize the top players from high schools in Wilton and Weston.
"What I like about it is, for example, you play against the best from Norwalk High, Brien McMahon, Fairfield Prep, Trinity Catholic," Thoesen said. "You're not just competing against one school, you're competing against three schools. Every time you come out you're playing against very good competition."
The challenge comes from not only competing against the all-stars of several high schools, but that hitters have to use wood bats. Thoesen said using wood bats forces players to hone their knowledge of where the "sweet spot" is on the bat. The less forgiving style of play has helped elevate some of Thoesen's players to make teams for well-known collegiate baseball programs at schools such as UConn, Oberlin, and Swarthmore.
"The kids enjoy the level of competition," Thoesen said. "They adapt to it pretty fast, though. It's three-game series, so you're looking to win series. You take it one game at a time."
Baseball is more than just Thoesen's hobby it is also his business. Thoesen has been a partner for Integrated Sports Training, a baseball fitness center, in Norwalk since 2004, helping to train young baseball players. Thoesen said he is proud to have a hand in shaping the skills of growing athletes.
"They're hard working kids," Thoesen said. "It's fun to see kids working hard and getting something out of it."
Wilton Legion plays its home games at Wilton High School. It takes on Bridgeport Legion on June 20 at 4 p.m.
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