Questions & Answers About Ruffnecks Baseball

Questions & Answers About Ruffnecks Baseball

Program offers some, not all solutions.

Senior Ruffnecks Find Success & Passion

Senior Ruffnecks Find Success & Passion

Work, Play, Competition Define the Experience

14U Champions – Again!

14U Champions – Again!

14U Win World Series in Nashville

Questions & Answers About Ruffnecks Baseball

People have questions.  Each summer, between late June and August we field well over 200 new inquiries.   Interest in the program and Ruffnecks Fall Baseball registrations are growing.  Of course not all register and participate in order to become candidates, but folks want to know who we are and what we do.  As the program continues to evolve and garners more attention, the task of defining ourselves for prospective players and families actually becomes easier.  Why?  We differentiate ourselves.  We do so because we work tirelessly to refine what we do, and we deliver a quality and purposeful developmental path for serious baseball players.  Still, some folks get wobbly.  Some players become self-centered and less team-centered.  First and foremost, we are a team-oriented baseball program.  We are not for everyone.  The Ruffnecks journey is not always an easy one.

What We Do

We coach and develop.  We build teams that are part of a Program.  After all, the PROGRAM is the TEAM of teams.  Players in our program know the other players in the program regardless of age or level of play.  They know them as Ruffnecks.  Our coaches are involved with players at all ages.  Players from younger rosters may have opportunities to play with an older Ruffnecks roster during a given event.  The common bond is being a Ruffneck.

Of course, our players love to win.  Most competitive athletes do.  But we believe that winning is a byproduct of adherence to competitive and developmental principles and fundamental truths.  Sounds cliche or trite?  It is difficult to do.

We believe in teaching.  At the 13U level alone, we put four to five qualified coaches with our 13U team during the season.  Why? Because we teach.  Our older teams have three, four, and sometimes as many as five coaches working.  None are parents.  Is this excessive?  No.  Is this expensive? Yes.  Families who pay for travel baseball deserve to get value for what they invest in.

We coach to instincts.  We ask players to be instinctive ball players.  This takes enormous work, repetitive coaching, and sometimes tough love.  The players own the game, not the parents or coaches.

What We Do NOT Do

We do not recruit and solicit players; we prefer they find us through referrals and reputation.  We do not use “temporary” players, nor do we invite players to play with the Ruffnecks for a weekend or “just for this big tournament.”  You are either a Ruffneck, or you are not.  If we need to bolster a roster, we do so with younger players from within our system.

We do not run a 12U team to feed our development system; we begin on the full-sized diamond.

We do not have a solitary coach show up to the field to sit on a bucket, barely teaching or communicating with the players.

We do not build our 13U (entry-level) roster with the biggest, most mature players so that we can flex our muscles at 13; we look for athletic players and supportive families.  And we do not easily “kick players to the curb” who have been developed at 13u & 14u as long as they have put in the effort and can define a role for themselves.

We do not succeed with building every roster and developing every player.  We have our failures, to be sure.  There are players who leave the program, though our attrition is low.  When they leave, it is because we either could not help them further, or because they felt their baseball objectives may be better met elsewhere.  We are sometimes faced with difficult conversations.

We do not field “Showcase” teams; Our teams play great competition, wherever that takes us.

We do not have a magic wand to get players college scholarships.  Neither do we boast that we are a program designed for Division I players only.  We have solid players capable of matriculating to fine schools at all levels of collegiate baseball.

We do not do Parent-Coached baseball.  Parents are not in the dugout or on the field.  Period.  We do not ask them to keep the book.

We do not run multiple teams at a given age level.  We field one team per classification.  No “B” teams.

We do not keep statistics.  We don’t care about them in the context of the program or the competition we play.

Of course, there is plenty else we probably don’t do… some of which we might consider… some we prefer to leave to others to figure out.

The Landscape

The New England Ruffnecks stand out at a time when there is considerable confusion regarding the options for baseball instruction, participation, and development.  There are literally hundreds of options for a boy graduating from the Little League diamond to life on the Big Diamond.  “Daddy Ball” teams, facility-based teams, “scout” teams, and loosely defined “college prospect” teams litter the landscape, often making claims that simply can not be supported.  New offerings and teams crop up each year, often formed by parents, coached by parents, or led by parents with the ability to rally a group of kids and families.  Some of these programs enjoy short-term success, and some are sustained only as long as those parents or coaches have a child in the program.

Of course the Ruffnecks are not the only choice.  There are several other fine programs working hard with good players.  But thoughtful families must navigate the landscape carefully and deliberately.  The good choices are not simple and certainly not plentiful.

Our Objectives

Field #3 at the NEBC

The Ruffnecks keep our objectives simple: At the younger ages we prepare players for high school varsity competition.  From 15U and up, we are a college development program.  Indeed, at our core, we are a college development program first and foremost.  We care about a player’s academic record.  This does not mean that every 13 year old who enters our program will go on to play college, but it does mean that our curriculum is designed along that track.  We attract good players who become better, and eventually many of them become very good players.

We believe in a steady addition of “new blood” and consider new candidates for every roster, every year.  However, we are increasingly selective.  Rosters expand as the teams get older and roles become more defined.   We do not take players who cannot contribute.  Players play.  We encourage multi-sport athletes and believe they are among the best baseball players in the long run. As players grow through the system they develop a self awareness about themselves as student-athletes.  This means that they begin to realize what kind of ballplayer they may become at the next level and what colleges and universities are realistic for their futures.  Ruffnecks rosters are assembled with four criteria as the principle determining factors:

  • Age & Graduation Class (HS).  Is the player young for his class or age appropriate?
  • Ability (Talent)
  • Projected Role
  • Positional Needs.

Scope of Activity & Support

Financial security has been established over the course of 13 years through the generosity of several benefactors.  This financial strength provides opportunities, and a scope of activity that is unsurpassed in our region.  The manner in which our teams travel, the amount of travel, practice opportunities, games, and role in the development and planning of the New England Baseball Complex (NEBC) in Northborough require support well beyond what tuition sustains.  Our teams play all over the country.  Our ability to play and practice at home on the synthetic surfaces of the NEBC further differentiate our program.

Understanding the Culture

Seniors at Dinner

We sense that players and families, once they are past the transition to the big diamond at 13 and 14, come to realize that there are really very few programs focused on development and travel at our level.  We do not claim to reinvent the principles that have guided baseball development for years.  We only try to adhere to those principles.  Our rosters provide depth and talent and are built to compete.  They are larger than most.  While we care that all our players play, we are more concerned that they discover and carve out a role for themselves.  Accordingly, most players used to being on the field all the time must adjust their expectations. The physical and mental demands of the Ruffnecks program are significant.  We undertake a rugged schedule at ALL levels.  We work hard to attract good, dedicated, professional coaches.  For players who prefer to enter showcases, attend college prospect camps, or do other events to give themselves exposure to recruiters, we are NOT the program.  We still believe that there is value in playing with a team, as a team, and in the context of team objectives.  Individual skills and talents are best developed and displayed within the framework of team competition – one level at a time.

Senior Ruffnecks Find Success & Passion

In the Weight Room - Georgia

Success on the baseball field is most often measured in the score, standings, stats, and box scores.  So it is every morning when we open the sports section of the newspapers or tune into ESPN Sports Center.  For the 2015 Senior Ruffnecks the score matters, but it pales in comparison to the experience of playing on this TEAM.  Over the course of 50 plus games since June 6th (an intensive schedule to say the least), this group of Ruffnecks has distinguished itself by their cohesiveness and their passion for the game and each other.  Make no mistake about it… this team loves to win and compete, and they do so quite well.  They are talented.  But while team chemistry can often fuel success or failure, the makeup of this Ruffnecks graduating class is special.  It is the largest class of Ruffnecks that has played together for all five years in the program (11 players).  The journey from 13U to this season is marked and defined by the Ruffnecks experience: Different coaches each year… new additions… some departures… great competition… travel… memories in the hotels, buses, restaurants, and airports… all with teammates.  But somehow, being part of the 2015″Senior” year has been a special experience.

The Joy of the Journey

The eleven players who have spent five years have always welcomed new additions.  The welcome mat is not unconditional however.  It requires an understanding of why, at 13U this team cheered loudly each time a batter was hit by a pitch, “Way to be a Ruffneck!”  It requires difficult, and sometimes painful self-examination and personal doubt.  It means embracing a teammate who has failed in a miserable way, or has momentarily fallen out of grace with a coach or has been ignored by a college recruiter.  What distinguishes this group as much as anything is the way in which new players immediately become part of the experience, and understand!!! Short Stop Connor Lee, and catcher Teddy Beaudet came as 16U players.  They are woven into the fabric of the team as if they have been part of it for five years.  Lee and Scott Holzwasser form the middle infield with 3-year player Teddy Bakas.  Beaudet and 5-year veteran John Simourian form a cohesive catching tandem.  First year left hander Holden White, immediately fit right in with his new teammates and latched on to the humor and focus of 2-year ‘Neck Morgan McSweeney.  Chris Galland, Ian Herel, Holzwasser, and Alex Dillon form a core of Sudbury players who have banded together for the duration.  Five year veteran Zack Horwitz has housed teammates with significant travel issues in his home for the past two years.  Spencer Yee did anything and everything to contribute to the team.  This is the character of the team.  And their joy in playing baseball shows on the field.

Commitments, Colleges, and Competition

Coach Toffey Addresses Senior Ruffnecks

Indeed this is a talented Senior class.  But it is not defined by college commitments, early verbal offers, and the frenzy of invitations to special events, showcases, and individual  accolades.  Not all our players are “Division I prospects.”  We have excellent ball players capable of contributing at many wonderful, competitive schools with outstanding baseball traditions.  And we are fully committed to supporting each player in his journey to play college baseball.  Senior Head Coach John Toffey has brought a new perspective and has become a great advocate for Ruffnecks players.  Matt Blake, who has been the Ruffnecks pitching coach for the past six years (this year a coach in the Cape League), continues to work behind the scenes for Ruffnecks pitchers with college recruiters.  Other coaches have contacts and support the college placement process… Coaches such as Kirk Fredericks and Kevin Graber are consummate educators with distinguished coaching resumes.  They care and they work for Ruffnecks players.  The entire organization works to support Ruffnecks.

College coaches consistently remark that they love watching Ruffnecks teams play in events.  Despite the glut of mercenary events, teams, and showcases, colleges continue to insist they prefer to watch TEAMS like the Ruffnecks play baseball.  Comments such as “Your coaches really coach ‘em up,” are the greatest greatest compliment for our efforts.  “Your players really go about it the right way,” is a definitive trait for which all Ruffnecks should be proud.

This year’s Senior class has had a blast!  Their college commitments are, indeed, impressive.  Yet it is neither necessary or important to tout those commitment here and now.  Several placements continue to unfold, with players (and families) demonstrating great patience, confidence, and faith.  While many programs claim any college player who ever wore a shirt in a game as “one of theirs,” we prefer to celebrate the journey and accomplishments of Ruffnecks who stay and play.  For this Senior class, the journey can be defined by a spontaneous (some might say silly) team cheer that arose in the huddle after one of the final games of the summer.  “Friendship on 3; Family on 6; Justice on 9; Ruffnecks on 10!” And off they went!  They are a loose group, to be sure… they were tough outs… played hard… and they sure had a good time.  Thanks to all.

Ruffnecks Fall Baseball Registration

Important Notices

(Updated Saturday, August 29 at 8:00am)

13U Ruffnecks Fall Baseball
Program is Full.
We are accepting Wait List applications.
2nd Email sent to registered players on Saturday, August 29.
For questions please call (508) 409-4108

HS Wood Bat & College Prep Fall Baseball
Registrations are closed.
Wait List registrations continue to be accepted for HS Wood Bat.

College Prep informational email sent August 27
HS Wood Bat informational email sent August 29



The New England Baseball Complex is located at:
333 Southwest Cutoff
Northborough, MA 01532



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