MEXICO — Michael Ostrom has experience building a program from the ground up.
The former Watertown High School three-sport athlete is now eager to put those abilities to the test with a willing team in need of molding, as the new head varsity baseball coach at Mexico.
The Tigers are in search of their first winning season since 2010 and are scheduled to begin that quest by hosting Hannibal in the season opener Monday.
“I got super lucky getting this team,” Ostrom said. “I think I’m bringing in a really competitive side and nature, and I want to bring fun and excitement back to this varsity baseball program. I got 12 kids that mesh well together, they get along and joke around, and I think they’re one as a unit right off the bat.”
Ostrom is a 1998 Watertown High School graduate and former standout for the Watertown Red and Black semipro football team.
He was a fixture in football, baseball, and basketball for the Cyclones and secured a special-talent scholarship to Brockport to play both football and baseball, but suffered a serious knee injury his freshman year. Ostrom ultimately returned to Watertown and competed for the Red and Black while attending Jefferson Community College.
His career path eventually led him to working with at-risk youth at Mountain Lake Academy in Lake Placid where he unwittingly honed his coaching skills.
Ostrom initiated and developed sports programming at the school to provide an outlet and “something more to look forward to,” for interested students.
He set up academic and behavioral standards to be met for participation on a basketball team, held three practices per week and scrimmaged against a few neighboring schools.
“It became just a positive impact, and we ended up scrimmaging a couple schools in the area around Saranac Lake and Lake Placid,” Ostrom said. “The coaches there asked if I wanted them to take it easy and it was like, ‘no, this is their game, they get two a year, they’ve tried really hard,’ and we ended up beating both schools.”
Ostrom may have found the perfect match as he again aims to lay the groundwork for success and instill confidence in aspiring athletes from the earliest stages.
The Tigers finished 3-13 last year and haven’t produced more than five wins in any season over the past decade.
Ostrom said that he reached out to the district to express a general interest in coaching after moving to the area with his fiancée last June and pursued the varsity baseball position upon its opening.
“I love the way he’s coaching us already this year and hopefully he’ll stick around for a really long time and help rebuild this program,” Mexico junior Jacob Poissant said.
Mexico junior Johnathan Greeno added: “He’s a good guy outside of coaching. He’s relatable, the guy you can go to for stuff, and he’s an honest, respectful guy.”
Greeno and Poissant were each named Onondaga High School League Division II Second Team All-Stars as sophomores last season and are back to lead a youthful squad looking to turn the page for the program.
“I think it’s a really positive team and there’s nothing but encouragement from our teammates and our coaches,” Poissant said.
“We have experience, even though we have young guys, they played their whole lives and know what they’re doing out there,” he added.
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