USA Elite’s Brandon Martorano has been in the national spotlight since a very young age. So, it comes as no surprise that he chose a school that is arguably one of the top college baseball programs in the country. Martorano recently committed the UNC to continue his baseball career and pursue a degree in Psychology. “In some ways this was an easy decision because I just love UNC. But in other ways it was very difficult, said the 2016 catcher from Marlboro, NJ. I visited alot of schools and they were all stellar. However, I have been a UNC fan since I was a little kid and it’s always been a dream of mine to be a Tar Heel”.
Martorano hopes to continue his successful ways when he gets to UNC. UNC has been to the college world series in the last few years more than any other school in the country. But, Martorano is no stranger to success. Last summer (2013) he was selected as one of the catchers for Team USA 15U that won the gold medal in the COPABE in Baranquilla, Columbia. “Playing on Team USA is the highlight of my career so far. The whole experience was just incredible. The selection process was so intense. Our team was obviously very good and it’s an experience I will cherish for the rest of my life”.
USA Elite Director, Mark Helsel thinks the future is very bright for the athletic young catcher. “He’s a super kid. He’s mature beyond his years. He’s a leader on the field and that’s what you want from your catcher. He had a lot of success before he came to our program so we can’t say we put him on the map. He is obviously a high profile player and we’re happy to have him in our program. Our 2016 National team that he plays is a very talented group. They will be fun to watch this summer”.
Martorano says its all about staying hungry and getting better. “I love the process of developing my game to a higher level. I enjoy practicing. It’s not work for me. I like playing with USA Elite Baseball because this organization stresses development. Regardless of how much success we’ve had, there is still room to improve. Nobody is satisfied. We all want to get better”.
Leadership League To Present to USA Elite Families May 3rd
by posted 02/22/2014
Leadership League To Present to USA Elite Families May 3rd in Pittsburgh
Sideline Life: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Champions
Greatness isn’t born. It’s developed. What is the secret of developing talent? How do we unlock it? At the Leadership Bootcamp on May 3rd, Leadership League founder and CEO will facilitate a discussion involving a panel of parents whose sons are currently playing in the MLB. The focus of this session is to provide parents with the tools they can use to maximize the potential of their kids. We will focus on the virtues that enable these parents to fuel passion, inspire disciplined practice habits, and bring out the best in their kids.
24/7 Winners: A Game Plan for Success and Significance
Anyone who reaches the top of the their field—a division one baseball player, professional athlete or successful business person enters into an elite group reserved for 1% of the population. However, 70% -- 80% of this elite group doesn’t finish well. Most struggle with sustaining success in life and living a life of significance beyond their life of success. In fact, 80% of professional athletes are bankrupt, addicted, or divorced within 5 years of playing professional sports. Another study done on the 1% that makes up the wealthiest individuals in the world found that many of these individuals struggle with depression, suicide and divorce in comparison with the population in general.
Damian Williams, CEO of Leadership League, along with a few professional athletes coached by Williams, will come together to teach the life principles that will enable USA Elite players to enter into the elite 1% of successful people. More importantly we will learn how to live from the “inside out” vs. the “outside in” which will enable you to surpass the 1% group and enter into a super elite group of 1 out of 1000 who live successful AND significant lives!
Bottom line: Discover why successful people become and stay successful and how you can too!
Also, plans are underway to provide a behind the scenes experience at PNC Park and participate in a Pirates game for the families who are interested in adding this experience to their USA Elite leadership boot camp day.
USA Elite Baseball has developed a network of sports performance trainers for its players and Director, Mark Helsel, says he’s seeing impressive results. “Our players are making significant gains this off season. I attribute that to the dedication and efforts of our players, but also to the type of training they are doing”. Helsel and his staff have built a network of qualified, baseball specific trainers for their players to plug in to all across the state of PA. “We have reached out to some of the best trainers in the state and developed strategic relationships with them. We let our players know who they are and how to start training with them. It’s working out great for everyone involved”.
Tyke Steiner, co-owner of Core Sports Training in Altoona, PA says USA Elite Baseball has a vision for it’s players that is spot on. “They want their players training properly and understand that better athletes make better baseball players. We focus on safety and proper technique. We also develop baseball specific movements to increase speed, agility and explosiveness. Nothing in baseball is slow”. John Graham concurs. Graham is a nationally respected speaker and expert on sports performance and is currently the director of sports performance at St. Lukes Hospital in Hazelton. “We train many of their athletes here. The focus of their organization is development so we have a lot of synergy with them because we believe in training the whole body. I have been impressed with their commitment to their players”.
Because USA Elite Baseball recruits its players from a large geographic region Helsel says it’s critical to have support for his players. “We do the legwork for our players. We find the best trainers in their area. It’s paramount that our players are training properly. We do not want them working hard, only to find out that what they were doing was actually counter productive. There are many kids unknowingly training hard, but getting slower, less flexible and losing velocity. By having a network of trainers for our players we greatly eliminate the chances of that happening”.
2016 RHP Bobby Nicholson came on to the national scouting scene in a hurry and left it almost as fast. Nicholson gave UVA Head Coach Brian O’Connor the good news that he would accept a scholarship offer and continue his education and baseball career as a Cavalier. “It feels great, said the well spoken Charlottesville native. I visited a few other schools and this was not an easy decision at all. I was humbled by the experience and feel very, very blessed”. Nicholson was one of the first players recruited by USA Elite Baseball recruiting director, Jeff Sullivan. “This is why we do what we do, said Sullivan. Bobby is a great kid and comes from a great family. When I talked to him and his parents about playing for this organization this is exactly what we talked about. One season later he’s committed to playing at a top 10 program. That’s pretty sweet”.
USA Elite Baseball Director, Mark Helsel, watched Nicholson soar to the top of the recruiting world in a very short time. “There are kids out there that just need exposure and Bobby was one of those kids. He has everything anyone could ask for in terms of being a prospect. He’s a big strong kid with a live arm and great makeup. All we did was get the word out that Bobby needed to be seen”. And was he ever seen. No less than 30 college coaches were there regularly to watch him play. “To his credit, he took it all in stride. He’s a humble kid. He just went out there and was himself and that was plenty good enough”.
Nicholson was quick to give credit elsewhere, “I want to thank Jeff Sullivan for contacting me and my family about this incredible program. I also want to thank Coach Helsel for all that he does for USA Elite Baseball. It really is like a family. No player can go through this alone. It takes a team effort. Without the exposure and all of the guidance they gave me and my family during the recruiting process I know this would not have happened so fast for me”.
Perfect Game just released it’s updated 2016 players rankings and Nicholson is the #14 ranked player in the country.
UNC has come north to land one of Pennsylvania’s top 2015 players. Kyle Datres gave a verbal commitment to Coach Fox at UNC over the weekend after visiting the university. He is the second USA Elite Baseball player this year to commit to the Tar Heels. Earlier this year 2014 LHP Nick Raquet committed to UNC. “UNC has always been a dream school for me", said Datres. I grew up thinking about one day playing for them. It feels great to know that I’m going to be a Tar Heel”.
Datres has played with USA Elite Baseball for the last two years and credits his development and exposure to the organization. “Playing for USA Elite Baseball has been great. I got a lot of exposure to big time schools because I played for this organization. They do a great job of putting us in a position to get opportunities like this”. Datres became the SS on the talented Elite Prospects team after Tom Ott referred him to the program. “I owe a lot to Coach Ott. He opened the door at USA Elite Baseball for me”. Datres is the 8th 2015 player from his USA Elite Baseball summer team who have given verbal commitments to major D1 programs.
USA Elite Baseball Director, Mark Helsel, is not surprised by the success of Datres. “He’s the complete player. He’s as good of an athlete as we’ve had here. He’s an outstanding student. He’s humble. He’s a hard worker and he’s a great teammate. All the hype and attention he got was well deserved”. Datres is looking forward to competing against his USA Elite Baseball teammates in arguably one of the best baseball conferences in the country. “Playing in the ACC will be fun. I’ll play against Culver (Hughes) when we play Virginia Tech, Brett (Kinneman) when we play NC State and Ryan (Karstetter) when we play Virginia. Two of my high school teammates also played for USA Elite Baseball and I’ll play against them, too. Jimmy (Webb) is going to Wake Forest and Luke Glavin is going to Duke. That’s pretty cool”.
Helsel said seeing his USA Elite Baseball players like Datres get opportunities at schools like UNC is very rewarding. “We recruit these kids because we believe if they get the proper development and exposure good things will happen for them. Kyle is another great example of what can happen when a plan comes together. He did everything right to put him in this position. Now he’s going to get an opportunity to play for one of the top baseball programs in the country and get a world class education. It doesn’t get much better than that”.
185 players in the USA Elite Baseball organization participated in the “All Team Day” at the Pocono Dome on Feb. 9th. Director, Mark Helsel, said it’s a special day for his organization. “Because we recruit players from a large geographic area we don’t get together as an organization that often. All Team Day is fun for the kids because most of the day is spent doing team building exercises and team competitions”.
The day started with an organizational meeting lead by Helsel. He spent about 50 minutes covering details about the remainder of the off season and upcoming high school season. He challenged his players to be leaders on their high school teams and play USA Elite style baseball 100% of the time. Former Green Beret, Chris Pearson, then addressed the crowd of players, coaches and parents. He challenged them all to not accept anything but excellence. See related story on website. Following Pearson’s talk, the players spent the next 3 hours doing team building exercises such as helping a blind folded teammate hit a ball off a T, answering questions in front of their teammates that are designed to help them get comfortable with being uncomfortable, playing the game of BLURT and sharing things they want their teammates to know about them.
The team competitions were designed to instill a competitive spirit in each team and demonstrate how each team is only as strong as its weakest link. Teams were given competitions where they had to pick certain players to represent their team. This demonstrated how each player on the team has a special role to play and that their teammates trusted them with that job.
“Watching kids laughing and having fun is special to me” said Helsel. We’re pretty serious about what we’re doing, but there is place for events like this. This is where players can really bond. I guarantee these kids will be talking about this day when they are playing this summer. There were some really funny moments today.
Helsel also joked about his new player/family orientation meeting. “While our players and coaches were all out on the turf playing games and having fun I had a meeting with parents about policies, conduct and procedures. But, in all seriousness, that meeting sets the tone for the entire summer and fall seasons. We are very clear about what we expect. We have very few “incidents” and I believe it’s because we over communicate on these types of things”.
Logan Goodnight saw enough of Penn State to know that is where he wanted to continue his education and baseball career. "I know it's early. I'm just a sophomore. But Penn State has so much to offer. It's a great university and I know Coach Cooper and his staff are going to do a great job to build PSU to a national program. Everything about Penn State appealed to me. I'm excited about my decision".
According to Perfect Game, the 6'1/175 Wheeling, WV native is the number one ranked player in the 2016 class for the entire state of West Virginia. He plays both middle infield and corner infield. USA Elite Director, Mark Helsel, is not surprised by all the attention Goodnight got this summer and fall from D1 college coaches while playing for the 2016 National team. "He's easy to project. He's one of our top athletes. He has an absolute cannon for an arm and he can hit. There is a lot to like about him".
Goodnight says playing for this organization has opened many doors for him. "My team has alot of other very good players. Many of them are getting recruited by schools so everywhere we play we have coaches watching us. That helps everyone get more exposure". Helsel says he think Goodnight has the athleticism to stay in the middle of the field. "Playing middle infield at a major college D1 program takes a special player and I think Logan is that type of player because of his work ethic and his athleticism. Besides that he plays the game the right way. I'm glad he's only a sophomore because I'm looking forward to watching him develop in our program for the next two years".
Ryan Sloniger became the third player to commit to Penn State after he visited the university and sat down with the new Penn State coaching staff. “I felt like I was home when I was there, said the outgoing Sloniger. I loved the coaches and the campus. It is everything I’ve been looking for. I am excited to get there a be a part of something really special. Penn State offers a world class education and their athletic teams are always among the best in the country. We’re going to build the baseball program to that same level”
USA Elite Director, Mark Helsel, has made only a handful of home recruiting visits over the years, and said he’s glad his visit to the Sloniger house a few years ago worked out. “Ryan is a special player and a special person. Said Helsel. He’s as close to a “franchise” player as we’ve ever had”. Helsel said his visit to his home before Ryan’s sophomore year in high school lead to what he felt would be a great career for Ryan with his organization. “I drove to Punxsutawney and sat down with Ryan and his parents in their living room. I just explained to them what our program was all about. I felt strongly that if he played for us we could get him the exposure he needed. I had no doubt that college coaches would love him once they saw him play”.
Sloniger is a talented catcher and a solid lefty stick. He is ranked as the #2 catcher in the state of Pennsylvania and the 36th best catcher in the country. Helsel thinks Sloniger has intangibles you want to see in a catcher. “He’s a leader. He exudes confidence and he handles our pitchers well. They love to throw to him. Besides that, he’s just a great kid. He’s fun to talk to and is very mature. I’m glad he has one more year with us because he’s a kid I will definitely miss when he moves on to the next level”. Helsel also noted that he thinks Penn State got the right player. “Ryan had a lot of opportunities from big time schools and he chose Penn State, so that says alot about Coach Cooper’s vision at Penn State. There aren’t that many kids in the entire country as talented as him. I think he made a great choice. I’m glad I’ll get to see him play in college”.
Culver Hughes (2015/RHP) has committed to play baseball at a D1 school. Hughes gave Virginia Tech the good news on Wednesday. Hughes joined fellow teammate Max Ponzurick (2014) and current Virginia Tech player, Saige Jenco for the Hokies. "I'm so pumped about this, said Hughes. I spent a lot of time going on visits and talking to alot of schools. I'm 100% sure Virginia Tech is the right fit for me. Coach Mason and Coach Woodard were awesome in the recruiting process and made me feel like they saw me as a player who could come and compete right away". Hughes is the prototypical pitcher. He's 6'3"/185 and long and lanky. He has a loose arm and a fastball that has been in the upper 80's.
USA Elite Director, Mark Helsel, remembers first meeting Culver. "I drove to Philadelphia to watch him throw a bull pen in January. He was only 14 years old at the time and after 5 pitches I knew he would be a D1 pitcher. He just has the "it" factor. He's the kind of player that if he keeps progressing could also be a high draft pick out of high school. He's certainly projectable".
Hughes has played the past two summers for former MLB player, Doug Strange on the 17U Prospects team. "We have a really good team and we always have college coaches watching us play. Being in this organization definitely helped me get more exposure. It's been a great experience for me".