Randy Gelvin has been at the helm of the Forbes Road baseball team for 32 years, and has watched the program seesaw year to year as the team continued to struggle with low turnout. But every now and then Gelvin will lead a fresh crop of young talent to the playoffs.
Although Forbes Road still faces the ever-growing challenge of fielding a team with limited numbers, Gelvin and his crew did something special this year - even if the team didn't realize it.
Gelvin and the Cardinals flipped their 5-13 record from last season to complete the year 12-8 - the team's best record since 2012, and made it past the District 5 quarterfinal round for the first time since the team won it all in 2004.
Gelvin is the Public Opinion Baseball Coach of the Year. This is the second time Gelvin has been selected in 32 seasons.
"We worked really hard this season. I don't think we took a night off all year," Gelvin said. "I have to give the credit to the kids. They didn't take much time off, and they took a lot of swings."
The team's hard work paid off after Gelvin brought in guest coaches to help the team with its batting, and plans to continue the extra work in the offseason, as he hopes to further groom Forbes Road's crop of pitchers at camps this summer.
The Cardinals started the season strong, winning four of their first five games, already showing vast improvement from the year before. But according to Gelvin, it took a while for the team to realize its true potential.
"We kept trying to make them believe they were as good as what they were; it was a constant battle," Gelvin said. "But it's always a battle. You go through all those dry spells, so they didn't have high expectations, but they started believing in themselves."
Gelvin said the team's first trip to the district semifinal since 2004 was a gratifying experience and is excited for the future, with nearly the entire starting lineup returning next year. Despite boasting a varsity roster of just 15, Forbes Road will return eight starters, staking claim as the "Fulton County team to beat," in 2017.
"It's always a roller coaster ride at Forbes," Gelvin said. "I don't think I've ever had to cut in baseball. Bob Thomas (former Chambersburg coach) told me one year he had to cut 60 guys, and I just laughed. It's a good opportunity for the kids to get to play. We work with what we have. That's just how it works at a small school.
"I think they’ll come in with a newfound confidence compared to what we started this year," Gelvin added. "People are telling them, 'You are the team to beat,' and that may help us in the long run, but we will have to see."