Chad Luensmann received the second annual Brad Evans Memorial Award, which recognizes one player in the organization who has consistently demonstrated a positive attitude, commitment, loyalty, hustle and respect.
US Elite Director, Mark Helsel said Luensmann lead by example, “Chad Luensmann is a role model player”. Luensmann, a Nebraska Cornhusker commit, showed incredible focus, determination and loyalty while playing in the organization since he was 13 years old. “He really is the consummate student-athlete, said Helsel. He has a 3.9 GPA, his teammates love and adore him and he’s about as coachable as they come. Athletically, he has shown some of the most dramatic jumps that we’ve ever seen. When he was 13 years old he was 5’6”/113 pounds. Now he’s 6’4”/218 and throwing 92. All of that is a testament to the commitment he made to being the best he can be”!
The award was created two years ago to pay tribute to Brad Evans, who played in the organization in 2010 and was also a role-model player. During his senior year Brad was a star QB on his high school team. He suffered several severe concussions. On Nov. 15th Brad took his own life. “Brad was a very special young man and this award honors him and the standard he set for our organization. He played the game the right way”. Helsel said he promised Brad’s parents that the organization would continue to educate players and their families about the seriousness of concussions. “Some studies suggest there may be a link between head injuries and suicides. We want everyone to know that concussions are very serious”.
Luensmann displayed his normal soft spoken and humble spirit as he accepted the award. Rather than speaking of himself, he instead spoke about what an impact Brad Evans made on him as an impressionable 13 year old. “He taught us all how to play the game the right way. He inspired us. He made me want to be a better person and play for more than myself. I’m just sorry he’s still not here with us”.
Last year’s winner was Parker Lynn, who is a freshman at Cal State University of PA.
The only smiles bigger than Mark Helsel’s on Wednesday were the smiles of the players who signed National letters of intent to play Division I baseball. Helsel, National Director of US Elite Baseball, says it’s one of the best days of the year. “This is the day that players from all across the country see one of their dreams come true and that is signing an official letter of intent to play D1 baseball. All of these players and their families have made huge sacrifices to accomplish this goal. I could not be more proud of them”.
Some high schools have special news conferences for their athletes, while others are more low key about their students signing letters of intent. Chad Luensmann (Univ. of Nebraska) said his whole community was excited about him signing with the Cornhuskers. “It’s a small community so this is kind of big news. said Luensmann. “I really appreciate the support everyone has shown me and my family”. Zack Helsel (Liberty University) was interviewed by a local TV station. “They (WTAJ) cover our local athletes well in this area. It was strange watching my interview on TV”. Watch Interview Here. Kyle Datres (UNC) and his parents were decked in Carolina blue for the signing. “We’re already big fans!, said a jubilant Datres.
Helsel admitted it was an emotional day for him personally. “Our organization encourages our players to have high expectations. We don’t talk to them about limits. We talk to them about what it means to being a possibility thinker and the value of setting goals and having a plan, and then following through with the plan. It’s all part of the process. Some of these seniors have been in our program since they were 13 years old. I have watched them grow from boys to young men. I’ve witnessed their incredible hard work and their dedication. I’ve watched them make wise choices and avoid the pitfalls that side track so many young athletes. I’ve watched their parents support their son’s dream. These families stayed the course and finished what they started. All of those emotions sort of hit me today. I’m just happy for our players and their families”.
More commitments....photos coming soon!
Noah Malone/RHP-Xavier University
Ryan Karstetter/INF, University of Virginia
John Peterson/LHP-Longwood University
Joel Paulino/INF-Morehead State
Gavin Hellman/RHP-UNC Charlotte
US Elite Director, Mark Helsel, released the details of his organization’s 2015 season. Helsel says it’s the most comprehensive program his organization has ever put together. “We’ve been at this for nine years now. In that time, we’ve learned alot. Our program is not pay to play. It’s for players and families that have high aspirations to play baseball after high school and are prepared to make a commitment in line with that goal. They are following our lead in this and we don’t take that lightly. We put a plan together that will focus on each player’s individual development. It’s involved. We want to put our players and their families in the best possible position to extend their careers. That involves so much more than just playing baseball”.
For the last 5 years the US Elite program has averaged over 20 D1 scholarships per year and the teams are consistently ranked by Perfect Game among the top teams in the country. Currently the 2016 team is ranked #24 and the 2017 team is ranked #26. “We don’t pay alot of attention to rankings. What it does say, however, that our players are getting recognized and exposed and that is very important to us. They are also getting it done on the field against some of the best competition in the country. The hard work is paying off”.
Helsel says there will be an even bigger emphasis this year on player development. “I think we’ve been doing pretty good at developing our athletes the right way, but we’re taking it to a whole new level this year”. Helsel says there will be a huge emphasis placed on arm health and foundational fitness. “We have developed exciting new relationships with some of the foremost experts in the country regarding arm health and training the body to do what we are asking it to do. These people are going to have a big influence in our program from here on out”. Helsel says he has already challenged his athletes to become the fittest organization in the country. “Each year we have an off season theme. This year our theme is “Survival of the fittest”. Each player will get a Nike Pro Combat workout shirt with the new logo on the front to remind them of what we’re after. It’s going to be a lot of fun for the kids this off season. They’re ready”.
Players in the US Elite Organization receive the following…..
2015 Kickoff Dinner and arm care seminar on Dec. 6th
All US Elite players registered for the 2015 season will attend a Kickoff dinner on Dec. 6th in Harrisburg, PA. Details of the upcoming off season, and the 2015 season will be reviewed. Special guest speaker, Donnie Watson (Dallas, TX) will present science based information on arm care and arm health. Mr. Watson is a nationally respected expert in arm care, and has been trained by Tom House, and Dr. James Andrews. Players are free. Additional tickets to the dinner, arm care seminar and arm care clinic the following day are $30 each.
Individual Development Plan (IDP)
All US Elite players receive an IDP. This is 100% unique to them and helps them understand their strengths, and more importantly, their weaknesses. Training suggestions are made for each player to improve their weaknesses during the off season.
Arm Care Clinic on Dec. 6th and 7th with Donnie Watson
Mr. Watson will work with US Elite players on Sunday, Dec. 7th at In The Net, Palmyra, PA. He will go train on all phases of arm care/arm health and safe velocity improvement techniques. There will be a strong emphasis on how to achieve healthy functional fitness.
College Coaches Instructional camps on Dec. 20th and January 10th
www.RTGCamps.com will host two college coaches instructional camp on Dec. 20th and *Jan. 10th. 12 of the top trainers in college baseball will work with players in small groups.
*This camp is optional and not included in the base membership
Completely New Uniform Package
US Elite players will receive a completely new uniform set for the 2015 season.
12 month player medical insurance policy
All US Elite players are covered under the US Elite umbrellas policy. This policy acts as supplemental coverage to the player’s primary coverage.
Professional Foundational Fitness Testing
US Elite players are tested for Foundational Fitness. This critical test reveals physical strengths and weaknesses and is a fantastic indicator of potential problems that can lead to injury.
(2) Athletic Testing Combines
US Elite players are tested two times per year (before/after) on their overall athleticism. It is paramount for athletes to understand their strengths and weaknesses, and how they stack up (athletically) against their peers. The ultimate value of this testing is to learn what areas to improve on, and how to do that.
US Elite players are able to showcase their skills in showcase hosted by RTGCamps.com The event is promoted to over 160 college coaches. Training is provided for all US Elite players on how to maximize their showcase. Results of the showcase are also promoted to over 160 college coaches and pro scouts.
(1) Skills Camp
US Elite players will spend a full day with some of the best trainers in the country and focus on only skill development. Regardless of how good of a team a player plays on, his skill set will ultimately be what gets him opportunities, or not.
(1) Player Promotional Video
Each US Elite players will participate in an individual video session. For players in 8th grade and under this video is used as a historical record ie. this is what the player looked like when he was in 8th grade. For players in 9th grade and above, the video is created to promote the player to college coaches and pro scouts. Video is a huge part of the recruiting process. US Elite coaches and trainers make sure the video that is being used is a positive promotion of the player. The importance of this cannot be overstated.
Online Customized Player Profile Page
Each US Elite player receives his own player profile page. This page can be customized by each player.
All Team Day
Team chemistry is a big deal. All US Elite players will attend “All Team Day” and participate in team building exercises with their teammates.
Mini Camp/Scout Day (summer and fall)
US Elite organizes two fantastic events for all US Elite teams; one to kickoff the summer season (1st weekend in June) and one to kickoff the fall season (last weekend in Aug). The 2015 summer kickoff will be held at Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg, VA. The location for the fall kickoff is TBD.
US Elite players and families are invited to attend a fun, informative and interactive seminar designed to give them tremendous insight to all aspects of the recruiting process. Presenters at the is seminar of experts in the field.
US Elite players have a huge advantage when it comes to the recruiting process. Our families and players are educated on the process, and more importantly, have access to a recruiting liaison. This is a position in our program created to assist our players in the recruiting process. Call it a recruiting “lifeline”. Our Recruiting Liaison is a former D1 recruiting coordinator and is extremely well connected in the recruiting circles, and is extremely knowledgeable in this area. He is available to assist our families in the recruiting process.
US Elite athletes and family members are invited to attend a seminar on nutritional requirements for elite level athletes. Presenters at this seminar are experts in the field of nutrition.
LIke it or not, playing baseball will end for every player. The question is who have our players become in the process, and what life skills and leadership traits have they learned during their time with US Elite Baseball. All US Elite athletes and family members are encouraged to attend this life changing weekend event. Presented by experts in the area of developing young leaders, this event is sure to be one of the highlights of the year for US Elite families.
Access to all United States Baseball Network Training Facilities.
Facilities are popping up all around the country for The United States Baseball Network, which is affiliated with US Elite Baseball. As a US Elite player, you may train in any USBN facility at no charge.
Our experienced head coaches are responsible for putting together their team’s tournament schedule. As a US Elite player you can be assured that your team is playing in the best venues your coach can find, and always against the best competition. Our program is not about trophies. It’s about playing highly competitive baseball, developing our players and exposing them to college coaches and pro scouts.
American Express coined the slogan years ago “membership has it’s privileges” so we can’t use that in our promotion of the all new “Perks Card”. We can, however, tell you that as a US Elite family you will receive a card that will instantly give you savings at literally thousands of retailers across the US.
Blair Lewis chose the ACC and the University of Pittsburgh over several other nationally respected programs, including an SEC school. In doing so, Pitt may have landed one of the top closers in the country. USA Elite Director, Mark Helsel, finds it hard to find the right adjectives to describe his star pitcher. “Bulldog, competitor, gamer. I’m not sure if there is one word to describe Blair. He’s all of that, and more! I can honestly say that we have never had a player make more big pitches in crucial situations than Blair. He was simply lights out this past year for us. As his confidence grew, he became virtually unhittable. He threw in the mid to upper 80’s but his spiked curve ball was a devastating out pitch. He literally dominated some of the best teams in the country”.
Lewis who has had an illustrious high school career at Lower Dauphin High School. In three years his record is 23-1 and lead his team as a sophomore to the PIAA state title game. This summer he put up simply gaudy numbers. In 15 appearances and 34 innings he had an ERA below 1, only gave up 7 hits and had 50K’s and only 9 walks. While in Georgia agains the best teams in the country he did not allow a hit or run in 11 innings pitched.
Lewis says he chose Pitt for a number of reasons, “Playing in the ACC is going to be a great challenge and something I’m looking forward to. I’ll get to pitch against some of the best teams in the country and compete against the best hitters. The coaches at PItt made me feel very welcome. I liked the campus, their stadium and the players were very friendly. Besides baseball, a degree from Pitt is among the best in the country and I am very serious about my academics”.
Helsel says he hopes to get Blair in front of his organization’s younger players at some point in the future. “We need our younger players to emulate guys like Blair. When the game was on the line, Blair wanted the ball. In the toughest of situations, Blair had the ability to stay calm. He focused and he competed so his team could win. I’m not sure how much of that you can teach, but want our younger guys to learn what that looks like”.
Scouts talk about the “looks test” and Niko Hulsizer certainly passes the test. “He’s just one of those kids that you take one look at and say, ‘that kid is a player’ says USA Elite Director, Mark Helsel. “The good thing about Niko is he backs it up with how he plays”.
Hulsizer recently gave Coach Adam Brown (Recruiting Coordinator) the good news. “It felt great to make my decision. I had a lot of interest from schools and its never easy to tell them no. But, in the end, Morehead State is the perfect fit for me. I’m confident that I can make an impact there my freshman year and getting a chance to play early was very important to me”. Hulsizer will be a teammate of Colton Coss, another USA Elite player who recently committed to Morehead State.
Helsel says Hulsizer is a great example of a player who developed in his organization. “There was never a question about Niko’s ability. He’s a 5 tool player. But, I saw him develop and mature in many ways during his time with us. We gave him some tough love, and to his credit he responded. He’s a very solid kid and someone I personally enjoyed being around. He’ll be a kid I really miss”.
Hulsizer will finish up this fall with Coach Strange’s team in Jupiter at Perfect Game’s World Wood Bat Championships. “I’m looking forward to that event. This organization opened many doors for me and I’m very grateful for those opportunities. USA Elite had my back the whole time. I have nothing but good memories from playing here”. Fortunately for Morehead State, Hulsizer will be making many more memories.
One season with USA Elite is all it took for Gavin Hellman to get the attention of D1 schools looking for a projectable RHP. Hellman recently committed to UNC-Charlotte after a successful summer season on Coach Hoenstine’s 2015 team. Hellman (Hummelstown, PA) took full advantage of the exposure he got this past summer. “There were college coaches at every event I pitched. It was the first time I had ever pitched in front of college coaches so at first I was a little nervous. But, after awhile, I kind of got used to just pitching and not thinking about who was watching”.
Hellman pitched in the low to upper 80’s, but it was his projectable 6’5” frame and easy arm action that got him the looks. “It’s easy to project Gavin, said USA Director, Mark Helsel. All he needs is strength. He’ll be a low to mid 90’s guy in college”.
Hellman said UNC Charlotte is everything he is looking for. “I just love the campus and that area. I really wanted to play in the south, so this is definitely my dream. I also want to thank Coach Murtha for working with me and giving me the confidence that I could do this. Being new to all this was very different, but Coach Murtha never stopped believing in me”.
Dakota Graham became the first player from the state of Delaware to play for USA Elite and earn a D1 scholarship. Graham recently announced that he will continue his academics and baseball career at Eastern Kentucky University. EKU is located in Richmond, Kentucky and competes in the Ohio Valley Conference. “I’m really excited about the opportunity I will have at EKU. I love everything about it there. The coaches did a great job recruiting me and making me feel like I could be an impact player. I love the campus and the academics will be a very good fit for me”.
USA Elite Director, Mark Helsel says Graham is a talented player with a big upside. “Dakota is a five tool player. There is really nothing he can’t do. Players like that are hard to find. He’s a great kid and plays the game the right way. We have enjoyed having him in our program and I’m sure he will have a successful college career at EKU.
Graham says playing for USA Elite taught him alot about how to play the game right. “The program stresses hustle, energy and respect. I really liked that and it taught me alot more about the small things that matter. I’m glad I played for USA Elite”. Graham will finish up with Coach Strange’s 2015 team in Jupiter this fall at the World Wood Bat Championships.
Kyle Ajjan 2015 OF/LHP from gave the coaches at Monmouth University some good news when he informed them he would be playing baseball there and continuing his academic career as a Hawk. Monmouth is located in West Long Branch, NJ and competes at the D1 level in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC). Ajjan says academics played a huge role in his decision. “Monmouth is a very high academic school with a great reputation. Naturally, I want to play baseball as long as I can and I’m excited about their baseball program. But, ultimately I want a great education and a fun and rewarding professional career”. Ajjan plans to major in Psychology and minor in Exercise Science. He plans to be a Sports Psychologist.
USA Director, Mark Helsel, says Ajjan was a model player in his organization. “Kyle is a gentleman and great kid. He is everything we want our players to be. On the diamond he’s a legit two way player because of his athleticism. He is a solid OF and hitter and he also is a very competitive left handed pitcher. That’s a great skill set to take to college. Monmouth is getting a very solid kid. I’m excited to watch him develop as a college player”.
Ajjan says his time with USA Elite was a great experience. “I almost started playing with them when I was 14 but things on my end made it impossible to commit. But, last year I was in a position to play for USA Elite and it really worked out well. Coach Hoenstine and my teammates were great and the organization did what they said they would do. I played in great events and got a lot of exposure”.
Garrett Zoukis lives a double life. He is a very talented baseball player, as well as an accomplished musical artist. Somehow he seems to manage both very well. “I love both. They are so different and I like that variety in my life”. Zoukis recently gave the University of Cincinnati the good news that he will continue his baseball career there, as well as pursue his musical interests. “Cincinnati is the right fit for me. I visited other schools but felt most comfortable there. They have a great baseball program and a really nice stadium. Academically, I’ll be able to pursue my musical interests at a great university".
USA Elite Director, Mark Helsel, remembers the first time he saw Zoukis play. “We played against his team and he destroyed us. He crushed everything we threw at him. I knew he was player immediately”. At the time Zoukis was playing on a local travel team and realized he needed more exposure. “Coach Helsel asked me if I wanted to play in college and, of course, I said yes. The rest is history”.
Zoukis has played two years for Coach Strange’s 2015 team and has been a leader on that team in many ways. “He’s an energy giver, says Helsel. “He plays hard and has a knack for web gems. He does some things you can’t teach”.
Zoukis says playing in the USA Elite organization has helped him in many ways. “There is alot of discipline built in to this program. I like that alot. Coach Strange was a big league infielder so I’ve learned alot from him. He’s been a great coach. I’ve played on a great team for two years and we all have gotten a ton of exposure. It’s been everything I hoped it would be”.
Colton Coss became the second player from the state of West Virginia to play for USA Elite and get a scholarship to a D1 school. Last year 2016, Logan Goodnight (Wheeling, WV) committed to Penn State. Coss, who played middle infield on Coach Hoenstine’s 2015 team this past summer got interest from other D1 schools but felt Morehead State was the right fit. “Their coaches made me feel very comfortable. They were upfront with me and told me what they were looking for and fortunately for me I was a good fit for their program”.
Coach Helsel says the future is very bright for the talented infielder. “Colton has the actions of a shortstop. He glides to the ball and has very soft hands and a strong arm. We saw him play last fall and knew he would get D1 interest if he got the exposure he needed. Morehead State will help him add some size and strength and he’s going to be a good one for them. I couldn’t be happier for Colton and his family”.
Coss says playing for Coach Hoenstine this summer was a great experience. “Coach Hoenstine was a professional middle infielder so he was able to give me really good instruction. That, along with the exposure we got, made this summer a great time”.
Joey Lancellotti says committing to national power, UNC, was a dream come true. "It was very unexpected. I knew they had interest in me, but I didn't know it would happen that fast". Lancellotti, a 2017 grad from Bensalem, PA, is a legit 2 way prospect at the D1 level. He touched 91 this past summer on the mound and also hit in the 3 hole for Coach Mike Capaldi's 2017 team that is ranked 26th in the country by Perfect Game. Lancellotti is the number 2 ranked player in PA in the 2017 grad year and the number 40 ranked player in the country, according to Perfect Game.
USA Elite, Director, Mark Helsel, says he is excited for Lancellotti. "He is a great kid and comes from a great family. He started getting a lot of attention last fall as a freshman when he hit 86 when his team played at the Perfect Game Freshman showcase in Florida. After that, things just started rolling for him. His outing while playing at UNC's stadium this summer sealed the deal". Helsel is referring to an outing where Lancellotti struck out 11 out of 12 batters he faced against a very good nationally respected team.
Lancellotti gave high praises for his summer team and coaches. "I love my team. They are great teammates and we have fun together. Coach Capaldi, Coach McKay and Coach Helsel have all been very supportive and helped me in the recruiting process. The program they have put together has been everything I hoped it would be".
Lancellotti will join several other former USA Elite players at UNC. 2014 LHP Nick Racquet is there now. 2015 MIF/RHP Kyle Datres and 2016 C Brandon Martarano will also be there by the time Lancellotti gets on campus.
The University of Maryland coaching staff got some good news from USA Elite 2016 catcher, Ty Friedrich, when he gave them the news that he would accept their scholarship offer. “I have been in close contact with them for over a year now, said Friedrich. Coach Helsel encourages us to build relationships with the coaches who are recruiting us. Over that year I have learned alot about the school, the coaches and their baseball program. I have a lot of confidence in what they are doing at Maryland. I wanted to be a part of that”.
Friedrich has been in the USA Elite program since he was 13 years old and says the program has helped him in many ways. “I started with them my first year out of little league. They were running a developmental league for 13U players. It was very different because it focused more on individual development than winning trophies. Looking back, I think that helped put me in the right mindset to work hard to develop myself, both on and off the field.”
USA Director, Mark Helsel, has watched Friedrich develop over the last 3 years. “Ty followed the plan to becoming a D1 player. Even at 13 you could see he had the tools to be an elite level player. But, like most kids, developing those tools is the key to success. Ty did that. He was a tall, lanky kid that needed to add strength and quickness. He did that. As a catcher, he continued to hone his skills. He stayed hungry and was a tireless worker. Getting a D1 scholarship as a catcher is very difficult. College coaches scrutinize catchers more than any other position. Ty has been a leader in our program and a joy to have around. He comes from a great family that supported his dream and they encouraged him to aim high. He’s a high energy kid and always has a smile on his face. He’s everything we want our players to be”.
Friedrich credits his USA Elite coaches with helping him make his final decision. “Coach McKay and Coach Rowland both helped me alot. They sat down with me and my family while we were in Georgia and just laid everything out. They took the time to help me sort through all the pros and cons. Both of them have a lot of experience in the recruiting process. In the end, it was clear that Maryland was the right fit for me”.
Friedrich becomes the second USA Elite player to commit to Maryland. 2014 grad, Zack Jancarski, will be a freshman there this fall.
Eric Mock is a big, strong, hard throwing RHP. It only took three weeks in the USA Elite Baseball summer program for Mock to get the exposure he needed and deserved to get a scholarship to play D1 baseball. Mock recently gave Penn State the good news that he would turn down other offers, including several from the ACC, to play for Rob Cooper’s Nittany Lions. “It feels so good to get this decision behind me. I was already getting a little overwhelmed with the whole process so I can honestly say I’m very relieved”.
USA Elite Baseball Director, Mark Helsel, is not surprised at how fast the recruiting process sped up for Mock. “I’d love to tell you that we developed this kid, but we simply recruited him in to our program. Sometimes it’s just a matter of bringing a kid in to our program and putting him in front of the college coaches. He’s only pitched in 3 events with us (Scout Day, JMU and Cincy Flames tournament). He is very easy to like. That’s why he decided to play with our organization. We just opened doors for him. He did the rest”.
Mock says Penn State is the perfect fit for him. “Coach Cooper and his staff are turning the program around fast. I could have gone to a more established program, but I actually like the idea of being a part of something special. Obviously, the academics are world class, and its close home. It’s perfect’. Mock also wanted to give credit to the USA Elite Program. “Nobody in the state of PA works harder for their players or has the connections to college coaches like USA Elite Baseball. I want to thank Coach Helsel and Coach Strange for believing in me”.