The circumstances are less than ideal for a first-year coach. But that’s OK with Tannar Galey, who is beginning his rookie campaign as the head coach of the Casper Oilers American Legion baseball team.
“It’s still the same game,” Galey said. “There’s just some things that you can’t do. At the end of the day it’s still nine guys on the field, with one guy throwing the ball and one guy trying to hit the ball.”
While the American Legion national board announced the full cancellation of the 2020 American Legion World Series and all regional tournaments last month, the Wyoming Department of American Legion made the decision to move forward with an abbreviated season, albeit with restrictions in place because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
(See Page B2 for rules currently in place for all American Legion games.)
The Oilers, who won the AA state championship last season for the first time since 1996, opened their season Wednesday with an 11-0 home loss to Cheyenne Post 6 at Mike Lansing Field. Again, not the ideal start for Galey or the Oilers, but considering all the players have been through the past two months, the final outcome wasn’t all that important.
“It was good to get out there and see some of the things we’ve been working on in a live setting against a different-colored jersey,” Galey offered. “It was definitely good to get the competitive juices going.”
Galey knows what that feels like, having played for the Oilers from 2013-15. The 2014 Kelly Walsh graduate played collegiately at Lane Community College in Oregon before finishing his career at Minot State University in North Dakota. He takes over for Josh Sims, who stepped down after three seasons.
“I always thought about one day taking the reins of this program if the opportunity ever presented itself,” Galey admitted. “And it just so happened that fresh out of college that was the case, so I took the opportunity and now I’m running with it.”
He inherits a team that brings back Corbin Kirk, last year’s AA Player of the Year, as well as veterans Will Clair, Ryan Keith and Micah Carr. Other players being counted on to play key roles are Jake Sides, Sampson Wagner and Daniel Roberts.
The Oilers put together an impressive campaign last year, finishing 46-18-1 and going undefeated at the state tournament before a 1-2 showing at the Northwest Regional. They’ll look to bounce back from Wednesday’s loss this weekend at the Gillette Spring Classic. Casper faces Evanston and Cheyenne Post 6 on Saturday and Sheridan and host Gillette on Sunday. The championship and third-place games are scheduled for Monday.
While Galey would love to see the Oilers go undefeated this weekend, he knows wins and losses can’t be the team’s main focus at this point of the season.
“I hope to see us build off what we did on Wednesday night against Cheyenne,” he said. “We want to clean up some things defensively and hopefully bring some more intent with regards to our at-bats and on the mound. We want to knock the rust off and get back into a rhythm so we can kick-start the rest of the summer.
“There have been tons and tons and tons of hurdles for each guy just to get to this point,” Galey added. “And the resiliency of these guys is going to pay off, not just in the coming months but the rest of their lives. They’re going to look back on this and say it wasn’t ideal circumstances, but we made the best of it and we were able to overcome that adversity and do what we had to do to play baseball.”
Follow sports editor Jack Nowlin on Twitter @CASJackN
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