North Florida Storm Travel Baseball is an organization all its own
The North Florida Storm baseball organization does not operate like other travel teams in the Jacksonville area. Due to the strict discipline that is enforced, the success rate for their players after high school is very impressive. Focusing on academics, family, and character is top priority to be a part of this program. Each one of these young men have to maintain a 3.0 GPA or above.
One might ask why it is important for these kids to focus on education on a travel baseball team. It’s very simple. For Storm manager Shelly Hall, it’s all about getting these guys to the next level. “Whether it’s NCAA, NAIA, or JUCO, grades are always a factor when a kid wants to play at the college level. My job is to get them there,” he says.
Players are also expected to respect their coaches, teammates, and all authority on and off the field. This isn’t taken lightly by Hall and the coaching staff, “My guys are not even allowed to look or speak to the umpires, regardless of the call,” he says.
Still not convinced that they are unlike other programs around? Recently, the Storm just went International and added several players to their rosters from the Bahamas, Curacao, and Venezuela. These guys from different countries will give themselves more exposure to scouts and life experiences that they will never forget. Growth is definitely a goal of this organization, not only from a culture perspective, but also for more age groups.
In the summer of 1999, the North Florida Storm was established and only consisted of one 16U team. The roster included Howie Kendrick (Los Angeles Dodgers), Billy Butler (Oakland Athletics), and many other players who went on to play baseball at a high level. Now, the Storm has expanded to three 14U, three 16U, and three 18U teams. On the staff for the Storm are Edward Waters College head coach Reggie Johnson and Edward Waters College assistant coach Shane Waller. Johnson is the 16U head coach while Waller is the 18U head coach.
Hall began his coaching career as junior varsity head coach and varsity assistant coach under his brother at First Coast High School in 1997. After much success at FCHS, Hall and his brother then began coaching at Arlington Country Day School, where dominating kept its course by winning two 1A State Championships from 1999-2001. Hall retired from being a JV head coach with a record of 72-1.
The alumni list for the Storm continues to get longer as years go by. The most recent players to get drafted that came out of this program are locals D.J. Stewart (Baltimore Orioles) and Donnie Dewees (Chicago Cubs) just to name a few. It’s very obvious to see that the North Florida Storm formula is consistent and reliable for young men who want to extend their journey in baseball after high school. But players beware; when joining this organization, you are committing yourself to the classroom, teammates and coaches who are like family, and of course, the beautiful game of baseball.
Special Feature / North Florida / April-May 2016
Shelly Hall, D.J. Stewart
North Florida Storm Baseball organization
By J. Kyler Wilson