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Let the Games begin

Washington baseball coach Ryan Whitney (left) will be the head coach of the East team at the 2012 Powerade State Games, which are scheduled to begin on Wednesday. (WDN Photo)

The 2012 Powerade State Games are slated to begin this week, and though Ryan Whitney will be hard pressed to top last year’s experience, the Washington baseball coach is excited to make his return.
In 2011 Whitney presided over the Region 2 team that won the gold in the underclassmen tournament and this year the Pam Pack coach is back as the head coach for the East squad, which is comprised of graduated seniors. Whitney will also work as an assistant on the Region 1 staff.
“I’m very happy to be a part of this,” Whitney said. “I’ve had the privilege of working as an assistant to some great coaches and obviously working as a head coach on the East team is an honor. “There’s not many people in their lives that can say they won a gold medal and to me that’s something really special. Because of that, I have the opportunity to coach the seniors this year and it’s one of those things in coaching that just solidifies what you do and it’s just a nice reward.”
Whitney, who spent five seasons as the West Craven baseball coach before taking over at Washington last season, said the East-West game is a great place for the athletes to showcase their talent.
“It’s kind of one last time to shine,” Whitney said. “You have multiple guys who of already committed to places and for some of the guys who have not committed yet, it gives then another opportunity to get one last look from some schools and hopefully they can take advantage of it.”
The Games are played at Wake Forest University, BB&T Ballpark and Glenn High School and  will begin on Wednesday as the East squad will battle the West in a doubleheader with a home run derby sandwiched in between. The underclassmen tournament will begin the next day and is scheduled to end on June 17.
For Whitney, this will be his fourth straight appearance as a coach at the Games and he said that aside from providing some pointers for the players, he hopes the athletes understand what it means to participate in event.
“We’ll provide some tidbits a little bit here and there,” Whitney said. “But, a lot of the things we focus on is making sure the players enjoy the fact that they have been chosen for this and are able to be on a team that not everybody can take part of.
“We want the underclassmen to understand that they have been chosen to represent their region and that the seniors have been chosen to represent the entire East. There’s not a lot of people that can get to say that in their lifetime. It really is an honor.”