Keystone State Games: Coach: More than competition going on

Cabrini Rudnicki - For the Times Leader

WILKES-BARRE — Sean Foley sees the Keystone State Games as more than just an athletic competition.

Foley, the baseball coordinator and a coach for the Pocono region, says the Games do offer a chance to evaluate skills, but they also serve as a way for the players to build lasting friendships.

“The beauty of the Games are that they are a way for kids to develop warm friendships across team lines in the Pocono region,” Foley said.

The Keystone State Games, an statewide athletic competition patterned after the Olympics, will be held in Luzerne County this week. The baseball competition starts Thursday at several locations.

Foley originally started as the Pocono Region’s Junior Division coach, before eventually being moved up to handle the Scholastic Division as well. Foley coaches the Senior Division himself, while overseeing assistant coaches who coach the Junior Division.

Foley’s love for baseball comes from his time as a baseball player for Penn State. Prior to the Games, Foley had done extensive coaching at both King’s College and Penn State Wilkes-Barre.

The Keystone Games’ Pocono region covers Luzerne County as well as Columbia, Lackawanna, Wyoming, Sullivan, Bradford, Susquehanna, Wayne and Pike.

“(The Games) are a way for us to have these young men get on a team, and not be with their buddies, but other kids from around the area,” said Foley. “This makes a unique experience and also gives them a chance to find long-lasting friendships that expand their horizons.”

Participants of the Junior Division encompasses freshman and sophomores in high school, while the Scholastic Division encompasses juniors and seniors.

“As coaches, our biggest goal is to evaluate the young players,” he said. “We practice for a short time to develop their fundamentals, and try to see where we can be assistance in their overall continuum of them as a player.”

The players will participate in a showcase on July 25, before participating in games throughout Luzerne County from July 26 to July 28.

“We try to do our piece here to try to get them to the next level if they wish,” he said. “But our main focus is to make sure they have fun.”

The Keystone Games, which began in 1981, includes players from all areas of Pennsylvania.

“It’s nice to see kids from Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, State College, Philadelphia, etc,” said Foley. “You come across some really nice players, which is nice for the kids because they get to see how they stack up compared to other kids their age.”

Foley is originally from the Wilkes-Barre area, where he went to Meyers High School. Outside of coaching, Foley is a physical therapist who owns his own private practice called “Foley Sports Therapy.” He currently resides in Mountain Top with his wife and two children.

Cabrini Rudnicki

For the Times Leader