Maricopa High School’s varsity baseball team, led by Head Coach Brad Vericker, has emerged as an example of sportsmanship both on and off the field.
During the state championship game on May 17, the Rams received the AIA 6A Sportsmanship Award for a consistent display of integrity and good character.
Every year, umpires vote on teams that exemplify outstanding conduct, fair play and respectful behavior.
“Having them succeed and do well as a player is one thing,” he said. “But I love watching them do well as a person.”
This award is validation that the team is doing something right, Vericker added. Last season, the Rams went 12-9 and finished fourth in their conference.
“You can draw an easy correlation between their behavior and leadership on the field and their success,” Vericker said.
Next year will be Vericker’s fifth season with the Rams, but he brings more than a decade of experience to the diamond.
In college, Vericker played as the first baseman and leftfielder at Point Loma Nazarene University. And after graduation, he played professional baseball for five years, working his way up to play Double-A baseball with the San Francisco Giants.
Looking ahead, Vericker is eager to watch his athletes develop their skills.
“It’s exciting for me as a coach. We have a pretty great group,” he said. “From captain to role player, we have a ton of good ability coming in next year.”
During the off-season, athletes can participate in an optional summer program to stay in shape. Skill development and strength training begins in June and an arm throwing program starts in August, before they get back into the swing of things.
“We try to offer something all year around, while making sure we don’t run the risk of burning them out,” he said.
Alongside his father, Ed Vericker, and assistant coach Nathan Rann, Vericker is thankful for the team he is surrounded by.
“As a head coach, to know that you have a trusted staff by your side makes it that much easier,” he said.