The Manhattan American Legion Manko senior 17ers will have a new look when they take the field for the first game of the season Tuesday night.
For the first time in seven years, the 17ers will have a new head coach leading the senior team.
Steve Disbrow, a 2000 Manhattan High grad, will be taking over as the head coach of the 18-and-under program, while former coach Luke Snyder will be moving down to the under-16 team.
Snyder’s decision to move down comes as a personal one, as he looks to focus on working toward his teaching career.
Former juniors coach Dan Rumsey graduated from Texas State last year and is currently a teacher and coach at Clear Lake High School in Texas.
Disbrow, who had served as head coach at Boulder (Colo.) High School for eight years until May 2013, returned to his hometown this year as a teacher at Eisenhower Middle School and an assistant coach for the MHS baseball team.
He said it’s exciting to be back and coach a team he was once apart of himself.
“My family’s from Manhattan, my wife’s family is in Manhattan, we were looking to get back for a couple of years,” Disbrow said. “The timing was right, there was an opportunity here teaching wise, and obviously coaching came into that as well.
“Manhattan High and the American Legion program is a big reason for where I am today as a coach and as a person and I’m just happy to be a part of that and find some way to get back to the program.”
Disbrow spent the past four months getting to know the MHS team as an assistant to Don Hess. He said the experience allowed him to take notes on what many of the players’ strengths and areas of improvement are.
He didn’t get to spend much time with the junior varsity squad, which will be primarily what this summer’s senior team roster is made up of, after the high school team graduated a senior-rich group that finished third at the Class 6A state tournament on Friday.
“We’re going to be a young team, and that’s perfectly fine,” Disbrow said. “I’ve personally been down that route before with summer teams and I’m very comfortable with that.
“I know the guys we have in the program here at Manhattan are very capable of stepping in and doing a good job and they’re eager and willing to learn.”
Disbrow said his philosophy this summer will be about growth and development. And he’s excited to have the opportunity to guide the next group of MHS varsity players on their path to next season.
“I’ve always kind of felt like summer is a time to learn, to develop, to grow as individuals and as a team,” he said. “There’s going to be times where we make mistakes and times where we just play great baseball.
“I have high expectations in terms of the development and growth. I believe in doing things the right way and putting in the working and the process correctly and letting results show for themselves.”
The 17ers open the season Tuesday with a Wood Bat League game against KC Elite Navy at Norvell Field at 6 p.m.
On Thursday, they start action in the four-day Tournament of Champions at Tointon Family Stadium.
Disbrow comes to the Manko team after running the Diamond Baseball program in Boulder, a team that played in Manhattan’s TOC.
This time will have a different feel though.
“It’ll be fun,” he said. “This spring was the first time I’ve been able to put on a Manhattan jersey since I left and it was neat to represent this community and the high school.
“Obviously, this summer we will represent the American Legion program and all the history it’s represented. I’m excited to be wearing Manhattan colors again.”