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Ripken Baseball Coach Spotlight: Tom Arroyo, New Lenox Rebels

By Ripken Baseball, 10/09/18, 3:30PM EDT

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"When you see a kid with a big smile on his face, it's all worth it."

Coach Tom Arroyo of the New Lenox Rebels, from New Lenox, Illinois, has been coaching baseball since he was 21 years old. After taking a step away from the game, Arroyo returned to coaching when his son started taking interest in the game. From tee ball to high school, Coach Arroyo has coached kids of all ages between 4 and 18 years old, but he says the age he’s coaching now is his favorite.

“I really love coaching 11 and 12-year-olds,” said Arroyo. “They’re still developing and they’re learning new things every game.”

Arroyo has coached the majority of his current team, the New Lenox Rebels, since they were nine-years-old and helping his team develop into better, well-rounded athletes has been extremely rewarding. He speaks to the importance of motivating his players through positivity and challenging his team to improve their game.

To Arroyo, coaching is more than just teaching kids to throw and catch; he believes that teaching the importance of attitude is just as essential. Arroyo values players that show good sportsmanship and respect the game of baseball. One of the most important aspects of his philosophy is to take every game one inning at a time.

“You can’t carry mistakes throughout the game,” said Arroyo, “Whether you struck out or hit a triple last inning, you come to the plate 0 for 0 your next at bat.”

By deemphasizing stats, Arroyo’s team is able to focus on improving their skills and having fun.

“It’s so awesome to watch the progression of my players over time,” said Arroyo, “Just watching them play on the field, being kids and having fun is great.”

After the Rebels traveled from Illinois to The Ripken Experience Pigeon Forge this summer to compete in the Volunteer Week-Long Experience, Arroyo is already planning their trip to The Ripken Experience Myrtle Beach next summer.

 “It will probably be the last time this team plays together before they start high school and go their separate ways, so we definitely want to do something special,” said Arroyo.

As Arroyo’s closes this chapter on his coaching career, he is unsure if or when he’ll get the chance to coach again. But for now, he’s making sure he enjoys every moment with his son and his team.