Atlanta youth baseball player Alex
Kindred competing in All American Baseball
Send a link to a friend
[August 10, 2017]
- Alex Kindred of Atlanta is competing this week at the USSSA All
American Baseball Games.
The USSSA All American Games are being held August 6-12 in Orlando,
Florida at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex and other venues in
the Orlando area. There are 8 regions within the United States. Two
teams - American and National - from each region will compete to
play in the Championship on Saturday, August 12, 2017.
Alex Kindred of Atlanta, Illinois is a member of the American 12U
Team representing the Great Lakes Region.
“Never let anyone take your dream from you. Don’t let anyone say
your dream cannot be accomplished. Tell them about a short kid who
was hanging from the rope when I was a little kid, dangling there,
trying to stretch himself and hoping to become as tall as the other
boys.” - Ivan Rodriguez spoke these words recently in Cooperstown,
New York at the Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.
“But I got a cool nickname out of it, 'Pudge.' I can say I am a very
tall 5 foot 9,” joked the retired Major League Baseball catcher and
now a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Rodriguez, who called
himself the little kid from Puerto Rico with a big dream, is a prime
example that physical size pales in comparison to the determination
and hard work put forth by some young athletes.
Case in point, baseball player Alex Kindred of Atlanta, Illinois.
Kindred, an eighth grade student at Olympia Middle School, is
representing the Great Lakes Region this week at the United States
Specialty Sports Association (USSSA) All-American Baseball Games.
In addition to baseball, the 5’ tall athlete, who is also an honor
roll student, plays basketball and participates in track at Olympia
Kindred is one of the youngest baseball players in his class due to
a late birthday, and he's smaller in stature than his classmates.
According to his father, Sean Kindred, "Alex's smaller size is not
diminishing his baseball dreams. If anything, it’s fueling his
desire to reach his goals."
“Alex has a big heart, determination and a great work ethic,” said
his dad Sean.
By his own choice Alex spends hours each week putting in work on the
field and in the batting cage.
A great work ethnic
demonstrated by Kindred.
Kindred works on building upper body strength at
Sean says, "During the off-season this past year Alex wanted to get
stronger to stay competitive. I researched strength training for
young athletes and after speaking with Dane Whitted, owner of
Lincoln Barbell, Alex began six months of strength and conditioning
work. I credit Alex’s strong work ethic and desire to play the game
at the highest level he can as key factors in his success.”
According to Sean, Alex began playing tee ball at age five and has
played summer travel baseball with the Olympia Progressive Baseball
Association (OPBA) for the past five years.
Kindred plays shortstop, catcher and pitcher for the
Alex also plays on his school baseball team at
Olympia Middle School. Last year Alex played on the eighth grade
team that won the regional championship under coaches Ron Smith,
Mark Finchum and Justin Lacefield.
An opportunity presents at the national level
This past summer Sean received an email from the USSSA detailing a
Showcase tryout for the All-American games to be held in Orlando,
Florida. Alex was eligible for a tryout with the Great Lakes Region,
which comprises Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and West
Virginia. Alex attended the tryout in Chicago on Father’s Day
weekend since he had the weekend off from the summer baseball
As Sean explained, “I showed the email to Alex and he was very
interested in going. Alex read that they would be evaluating players
and he wanted to get an evaluation of where he was as a player after
putting in all the work he had during the off-season and with his
summer baseball team. We went to the tryout where players were
evaluated on hitting, running, throwing and fielding. Additionally,
pitchers and catchers were looked at. Players could only tryout at
two positions and Alex chose shortstop and catcher.”
When Alex and his dad arrived at the Chicago tryouts, there was an
estimated 200 plus players competing for spots in their respective
age groups, many much taller than the young man from little Atlanta,
“Some of the kids in the 12U group were nearly 6’ tall,” said Sean.
“Alex said he was a little nervous. I told him to relax, that he had
put in the work and was prepared for this. His mother and I wished
him luck and stepped aside to let him learn to handle himself as a
young man and player. It was a great learning experience and an
opportunity for him to grow.”
Kindred batted .375 this summer for the Spartans 12U
Following the June 16th tryouts, Alex said, “I thought I did pretty
good but I wasn’t really sure.” Next, the Olympia Spartan who had a
batting average of .375 this summer along with an on-base percentage
(OBP) of .475, had to wait a week to see if he had made the 12U
[to top of second column]
Alex Kindred in Florida on Sunday, August 6, 2017. The Atlanta
ballplayer was chosen to represent the Great Lakes Region at the USSSA All
Sean said the selection show was aired online June 25th and indeed
the young man heard his name called. “We had just completed the
Lincoln Heat tournament that day and went home to watch the
selection show,” said Sean.
“Alex was very excited when he heard his name announced to the 14
player roster for the Great Lakes Region American Team. It was great
to see that a kid from small town Atlanta, Illinois could compete
with kids from six states and earn a spot on the All-American
roster. It just goes to show that you don’t have to be big to play
the game of baseball, but you do have to play big. Hard work pays
off,” Sean said proudly.
“His mother and I just love to watch him play this game and we are
very proud of him for the young man that he is on and off the
Josh Olsen, Alex’s Head Coach this past summer on the Olympia
Spartans OPBA 12U team, knows this young man very well on and off
the field. Olsen is currently the Assistant Superintendent at
Olympia and he was once a teacher and coached both basketball and
Olsen raved about Alex’s baseball talent. “He is very quick. He is
short, I would say, but he is very, very strong and he’s got a very
strong arm. He’s very fast on the base paths.”
Kindred's fielding percentage was a phenomenal .930
on the season.
While Alex’s batting average and OBP are equally impressive, his
versatility is also a strong point, “Alex can play all nine
positions if you need him to. I would say he’s our number one
pitcher. He’s also our number one catcher and one of the top at all
nine positions. He had more fielding chances than anybody on the
team and yet, even with having more opportunities, he had the
highest fielding percentage on the team with a fielding percentage
For the entire season he had nine errors. That’s obviously playing
pitcher, catcher, shortstop, second base...that’s impressive...he
played a lot.”
Olsen noted that was just nine errors in almost 60 games played.
“It’s a ton of fielding opportunities.”
Olsen continued talking about Alex, noting his character. “He is the
nicest kid that you will ever meet. He is just very polite. He’s
pretty quiet, but you know he just comes to play hard and work hard
and just gives 110 percent every minute that he’s there.”
A small, quiet kid who has earned a cool nickname, just like Ivan
“The nickname that we kind of gave him is “Bulldog” and I mean that
just summarizes it real well,” said Olsen. “Like I said, he’s kind
of a shorter kid, but he’s not a scrawny little kid. He’s strong and
probably had the best arm on the team. He just has that bulldog
mentality. He comes in and he works very hard. He is always giving
110 percent and you can’t ask for anymore out of him.”
According to reports Olsen has received from Florida, “Bulldog” is
doing just fine playing on the big diamonds at the ESPN Wide World
of Sports Complex.
Coach Olsen said, “I did talk to Sean a little bit and he said Alex
started both the first two games and played catcher and shortstop.
So he’s getting a lot of opportunities there. He’s performed really
well. He’s getting a ton of practice and instruction against some of
the top kids in the country, in addition to playing the tournament.
It’s a really cool opportunity for him. I’m really happy for him and
I’m glad he got to take part in it.”
Alex is glad to be a part of it, too and he is happy to be sharing
the experience with family.
Prior to the trip, about the anticipation of the experience of a
lifetime, Alex said, “I guess I’m playing really good competition so
I better be ready.”
Alex gives a lot of credit to his dad for the role he has played in
his career. “He has helped me out a lot,” Alex said of his father.
“He pitches to me a lot.”
A dad, a son and a baseball being tossed through the air...it’s a
This week other family members are getting to see Alex’s hard work
pay off on the national level. Aside from mom Rhonda and dad Sean
making the trip with Alex, two of his three sisters are also
traveling with the family. Completing the family affair in Florida
is a grandma and an aunt. Looks like Alex is surrounded by an
incredible female support system in the stands.
Alex is appreciative of not just his family support system, but he
is also thinking of his support system back home.
“I want to thank my coaches and I’m happy to represent the Great
Lakes Region and Illinois. I am also proud to represent Olympia,”
said the young man, full of Spartan pride.
You cannot end a baseball story without emphasizing a boy’s favorite
team and player(s). In this case, Alex is a St. Louis Cardinal fan
who lists Matt Carpenter as his favorite Redbird. Alex is also
inspired by smaller players from other teams, such as Jose Altuve of
the Houston Astros and Dustin Pedroia of the Boston Red Sox.
The latter two pro-players may be smaller in stature but they more
than make up for it in hard work and hustle, just like Alex.
Congratulations, Alex! You make Central Illinois proud!
Photos courtesy of Cleinmark Photography and Sean Kindred]