Harsh Reality in the Field of Dreams
“Some of the parents are hilarious. They think their kid is ready for the Major Leagues.”
- Hopkinton’s Peter Marso
by Ron DiMichele
September 23, 2005 —You say your son hits the curve ball pretty well? His heater flirts with seventy-five miles an hour? Maybe your daughter cans the ten-foot jumper all night long and sinks eight out of ten consistently from the charity stripe? Well, before strolling too far out into the field of dreams, you might want to chat with Hopkinton’s Peter Marso:
“They think they can play at Tennessee. They think they can play at Florida. They can’t! They’re not good enough!”
To the aspiring college athlete (and that athlete’s parents), Marso’s words might ring like a cold slap in the face, but he has the experience to back them up. Peter Marso has been a friend to Hopkinton High School athletics for over thirty years. He keeps the scorebook for the baseball team, works the clock at basketball games, and is the PA voice of Hiller football. What’s more, Marso is an assistant New England scout for the New York Yankees and the Recruiting Director for Impact Prospects‘ Baseball Pipeline, an on-line college athlete recruiting service. Marso has watched hundreds of high school athletic contests, and when it comes to assessing talent, he doesn’t mince words:
“I had a guy call me the other day and say his son just received a letter from the University of Virginia. I told him, ‘Forget it.’
Peter Marso is more than a naysayer. He loves seeing young athletes, especially former Hillers, succeed. Through Impact Sports, Marso runs camps “up and down the Eastern Seaboard” where high school athletes display their talents for college coaches and professional scouts. “I’m funneling kids down the pipeline to schools,” says Marso. “Recommending them, advising them, telling them where they really belong.”
Peter’s programs showcase athletes in football, basketball, lacrosse, and his specialty, baseball. “I grew up in a baseball background,” says Marso, whose father, baseball stand-out Charlie Marso, is a member of the Boston College Hall of Fame.
But Marso has seen enough flame-outs to champion strong words of caution to both athlete and parent. The fundamental reason area athletes fall short on the college level?
“They get beat out by better competition,” he says. “You get a Division III guy in Massachusetts, sure, he may be hitting .480, but he’s hitting it against seventy mile-an-hour pitching. You can’t evaluate something like that for the next level.”
Marso cites an abundance of athletic leagues, year-round practice facilities, and increased parental support as advantages for today‘s high school athlete:
“When I was in high school the parents didn’t go to games like they do today. They didn’t sit behind home plate. They didn’t show up in lawn chairs. I mean, you were lucky if your parents showed up for a game. I can remember David Hughes [current Hopkinton High School head football coach] hit three home runs one day and there was one person there. My father! And that was it! The parents didn’t get involved. They didn’t come to practices and sit and watch. It just wasn’t done. You were sort of embarrassed if your father showed up for a game.”
Marso argues that a well-meaning parent may be unfamiliar with the talent that’s out there, and this can lead to unrealistic goals. He recommends that athletes and their parents take in a college game or a Division I high school game to more clearly assess the competition. Marso encourages parents to “talk to someone who knows what’s going on at the next level” to find out where their son or daughter might best fit in.
Marso insists an objective assessment of talent and carefully considered school placement are the keys to college athletic success. He is happy to offer his services to parents of prospective college athletes. “Call me,” he says. “I’ll come up and let you know. I never tell a kid he can’t play somewhere. I just tell him the competition’s going to be rough. I don’t want to break his dreams. But I will advise him of what’s out there.”
Marso’s goal is finding a good fit:
“I would rather play for a small school, get my education, meet a lot of good people, be very happy, then go to a Division I school where it’s a total commitment, up at five-thirty in the weight room, and not playing. And maybe the hope of next year.”
Adds Marso: “There’s no diploma that says, ‘Baseball’ on it.”
Peter Marso’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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