By NICHOLETTE CARLSON
SYRACUSE – Love of baseball began at a young age for Jamie Beer when he and his siblings were all coached in the sport by their father. “I only played through Little League as a kid,” he admitted, but his love of the game continued from a distance.
His primary sports were football and basketball until an injury after his sophomore year of high school made that impossible. “We were always a sports family,” he asserted. Following in his father’s footsteps, Beer decided to coach his son and daughters in the sport.
He started coaching his son, Devin, in tee ball, and he now coaches softball for his daughter, Mackenzie, while his younger daughter, Morgan, was in machine pitch this year.
Serving as the softball chairperson on the Wawasee Community Summer League for two years, this was Beer’s first year as the league commissioner. The league has teams for children from 4 years old to 12 or 14 years old. While each town previously had their own league, they have been combined into one league which is run by a board currently sitting 11 members.
However, the league tries to keep town teams. Town representatives were also implemented this past year in order to help oversee the town teams, particularly the younger teams that don’t travel. There are typically 30 or more teams in the league. This past year there were 401 boys and girls in the league. “That’s right around a 15 to 20% growth over last year,” Beer reasoned.
As commissioner, his role is to keep everything flowing. He is responsible for making sure equipment is ordered both before and throughout the year. Figuring out game schedules, particularly rain dates for game schedules, can prove to be a difficult task depending on weather. This year was a potentially trying season with all of the necessary rain date games. However, Beer didn’t falter and guaranteed, “I can deal with the pressure and the almost 30 games we had to reschedule this year without panicking too much.” Whenever it seems stressful, he reminds himself, “It’s always about the kids.”
The board meets once a month throughout the year and it is Beer’s job to ensure everything gets done. This year he’s hoping to get some winter fundraisers organized to help pay for equipment for the nine fields they use throughout Milford, Syracuse and North Webster, like the new lights that were installed at the Milford field. Everyone on the board is dedicated to their role since each of them are also coaches.
While registration begins in February, April is when things begin to get busy for Beer. Games typically start around mid-April and last through the end of July. As commissioner, a board member, a coach and a parent, Beer spends most days at the ball fields. Last year, in order to get more experience playing different teams, the softball and major baseball league teams also began playing Nappanee teams which he had to help coordinate. However, after the season is finished in July, Beer gets time to relax and enjoy the summer with his kids.
Previously he worked as a general manager at Boss Hogg Beef Jerky. However, following an injury years ago, he stayed home and raised his kids. Once his kids were old enough to begin baseball or softball then he also began to coach.
Beer grew up in Milford and now lives in Syracuse. He is an avid Chicago Cubs and Notre Dame football fan.