Letter to Rebels Players and Parents
It is with deep regret and disappointment that I announce the termination of the RI Rebels Baseball Program. It has been a tremendous run of success both regionally and nationally, as the program built into an organization that helped springboard over 120 players into collegiate programs across the country, and is respected among it's peers, as well as collegiate coaches and professional scouts, many of whom spent hours each winter helping train and evaluate Rebel players.
In 2009 Chris Ursillo and myself set out to create an affordable, highly-competitive, exclusive program that was based on the traits that we felt were found in all successful baseball players: Commitment, Hard-Work, Loyalty, Pride, and above all, Respect for the Game. From 2009-2012, these very traits were what made the Rebels. Each summer and fall we would take a collection of players from rival high schools, many of whom spent the previous years as rivals, and watched them form a unique bond as teammates, and create relationships that will last long after baseball. These players became part of our extended family, spending birthdays, holidays, together, and being a bigger part of all of our lives than we ever could have anticipated.
It is imperative that I thank a few people who played an integral role in the Rebels program, and my life over the last five years. So many people have contributed to the success of the Rebels it is impossible to thank them all, so to those omitted I apologize.
Chris Ursillo: you are the most loyal friend and coach that I have ever met, and I am extremely appreciative of the sacrifices that you have made over the last 8 years we have been coaching together. No one is more knowledgeable about the game of baseball, and I am proud to have shared every coaching experience of my life with you, from Mickey Stevens to Fenway Park. Your enthusiasm and love for the game is contagious among the players and coaches who share a dugout with you, and I cannot thank you and Chelsea enough for the sacrifices that y'all have made to be such a huge part. No one was more a part of this program than you, and I hope you share the same sense of pride in what we accomplished.
Rebels Players: I founded this program at a time in my life where I needed you much more than you ever could need me. You rejuvenated my love not only for baseball, but for life itself, and I am indebted to each and every one of you for that. While I hope Urs and I may have taught you something along the way, the teaching worked two ways, and I learned an awful lot about baseball, life, and myself from you guys. I value the relationships that I have with each and every one of you and your families, and while the Rebels are no more, the relationships created through the Rebels will undoubtedly last. For that I am grateful, and if there is EVER anything that I can do for any of you, you know the number.
Paul Rampone: I cannot thank you enough for helping Chris and I organize this program back in 2008. While you had a son in the program, we would have never known. To anyone who didn't know, they would have thought that Chris and I were your sons from the support and guidance that you provided us. The support from you and your father Frank were and are appreciated, and the lessons you taught me will stay with me for the rest of my life. I never had more fun than talking about the game with Frank Rampone after games at URI in the summers of 2009-2010. You two believed in us, and it meant so much more to us than you may realize.
Brian Beneduce: Thanks for being a friend, big brother, confidant, voice of reason, and so much more to me over the last 5-6 years. You never were a parent to me, you were a big brother and a best friend. You gave me support, helped me navigate through some tough situations, and gave me a kick in the seat when needed. For all of that I cannot thank you enough. I appreciate your ability to put on different "hats" and play the role of mentor, coach for the coach, friend, but never "Player's Father". It is a unique trait that makes our friendship work, and I am proud to consider you part of my family.
Dan and Jane Gamache: You guys are the epitome of everything we strive to be as a program, and everything that I strive to be as a father, coach, and person. I have never seen a family love each other and support each other more. From the time we met in 2007 the respect that your children had for each other and you as parents is truly refreshing. You remind myself and those around you that family values aren't lost in this day and age. I admire you as parents Dan and Jane, and I thank you for the many lessons that I have learned about the type of parent and person I want to be for Landon. I look forward to many more nights around a campfire out in the woods.
Reed Gamache: Every coach says they don't play favorites. As anyone in our program knows, I'm not every coach. My only regret is that I could not call you a teammate, and share a field with you. Your work ethic is like none I have ever seen as a player or a coach. Your unselfish commitment to helping your TEAM succeed was what made Urs and I fall in love with the way you play the game in the fall of your freshman year of HS. Watching you develop from the under-sized over-achiever to a charismatic leader who is respected and admired by every teammate and coach he has ever had is one of the things that I will remember most about my coaching experience. I will NEVER bet against you in the game of baseball or in life. You are a special player, and a more special person, and I am proud to have been a small part of your development.
Gabe Zabatta: From the time you were a freshman at Toll Gate, it was evident how much you loved the game of baseball. What I appreciate is how much you love the Rebels program, and your Rebel teammates. You are the example of a team player, who understood and embraced your role. Whether it was doing a scorebook at SK, getting a game-winning hit against the CT Capitals to send us to the finals in your last tournament with us, your enthusiasm for your teammates and your program are what sports are all about. You are such a selfless, genuine, caring person, and it was refreshing to see how appreciated you were by your teammates. You are going to do great things.
Josh Tombs/Taylor Cacciola: I have never seen two players improve more through hard work. Josh, watching you go from a #4-5 pitcher on your HS team as a junior to staff ace and one of RI's top pitchers as a senior was one of the most incredible transformations I have ever seen. You committed to a program, changed your work habits, and became THE leader of your team. You were relentless in your preparation, and watching the group of players following you grow each week the season progressed was a testament to you and how far you came as a player, and leader. Taylor, you came to us as a player who loved the game, but lacked confidence and trust in your abilities. You came to our program, stuck it out with us, and became probably the most versatile player we had by the end of your Rebels career. I don't think I've ever met two players who loved the WORK that goes into being successful. These traits will carry over into your lives after baseball I'm sure, and in a few years when you are running companies, I hope you will remember me for a high-paying consultant job!
Chuck and Lori Wentworth: It is impossible to put into words how appreciative I am for the support over the last few months. Chuck, you have never once wavered in your loyalty and support for myself and our program, and it is not lost on me. Your concern and constant interest in my son's life means more to me than you realize. When Landon asks for Jack and Ava every weekend he's with me it is a reminder of just what this program meant, not only to me, but to my son, and that level was reached the day we decided to add the 9U team in the fall of 2011. The trip in Cape Cod with Landon and the 18U and 9U Rebels was all-time high point for me with the Rebels program, and I thank you for creating that dynamic that I could have never envisioned.
Thank you Rebels Players, Parents, Coaches. It's been a hell of a ride, and I wish all of you the best.