Scott Veisz came to Robbinsville from Edison in 1999 and, one year later, Steve Krebs arrived from Ridgefield. Few people knew it at the time, but the Robbinsville Little League just landed two key components in what would become a glorious run of baseball and softball success.
It came to an end this summer, as both fixtures are finally stepping down after a combined 35 years of service and amassing great memories.
“Coaching in Robbinsville Little League has been an amazing experience, one that will forever be with me,” Krebs said. “It has taught me valuable life lessons, has shown me how amazing kids are and how they can grow, change, overcome, be resilient and enjoy baseball and softball if we guide them to overcome the many challenges this game has.
“I will remember all the smiles, excitement and everlasting energy kids bring to the field, the times when they were challenged, unsure or even scared but how positive reinforcement and teamwork can help them see the greatness of success and to appreciate the work and resiliency needed to be successful. They will carry this on into other areas of their life. I always got a sense of satisfaction when I see kids glow with excitement when they are able to achieve something and be happy with their efforts.”
Veisz could not agree more.
“Robbinsville Little League has been a huge part of my life for the last 19 years,” he said. “All of my best friends are the guys I have coached with. All of my kids’ best friends are the kids they have played with. Being a part of it for so long has taught me the true value of sports and how it builds character.
“When I was just starting, I was a little over the top and thought my kid was going pro. Over the years, you gain some humility and realize that it’s not about making your kid the next Mike Trout. It’s about the learning, the value of team and working hard at practice so that you can compete and enjoy some success whether it is a big hit to win districts or it’s a kid making his or her first catch in a rec game.”
And now it’s time to move on, but not without first looking back.
Krebs signed up his oldest son, Steve, for T-ball three days after the family moved to town. He began coaching in the league in 2001. Veisz was recruited to coach T-Ball in 2004 and initially resisted but was convinced to volunteer due to previous experience.
“I was told I could really help,” he said. “So I did.”
Did he ever.
Since then, Veisz spent 16 consecutive years as a recreation manager at varying levels, including T-ball, Coach Pitch, AA, AAA, Majors and Minors. He coached five other teams and, from 2011-14, managed one team while coaching another. His outfits won four Major League titles and two Minor League crowns.
In All-Star play, Veisz managed seven teams and coached 11 others. He was part of six baseball teams, ages 6-7, 8, 9 that played local tournaments, and the 9-10, 10-11 and 11-12 District 12 teams. He moved on to softball as part of local all-star teams ages 8, 9, and all three district teams. Veisz was a coach on the 2014 Little League World Series champion, the 2013 LLWS third-place team and the 2017 9-10 East Region runners-up. He managed the 2015 8-year-old champion, coached the 2012 9-10 state champion and managed or coached four different 9-year-old champions.
During that time, son Matt and daughters Ashley and Abby all played in the league from T-ball through age 12. Ashley was part of the World Series champs, which Veisz considers the highlight of his tenure.
“One of the most exciting moments was winning the 2014 championship in Oregon,” he said. “Mark Walsh was the manager and the girls were so dedicated, full of passion and worked so hard to reach their goals. In every moment of that ride they made it fun and learned from prior teams who had come so close to winning it all.
“I always tell my oldest daughter Ashley who was on that team that when we watch the College World Series or the MLB World Series that, ‘You will always know what they are feeling to be champions as you yourself have accomplished something similar.’ So my proudest moment was to be a part of that accomplishment, because it was a lot of hard work and well earned by the players.”
Like Veisz, Krebs has a seemingly endless resume when it comes to coaching and managing. He was mainly a manager during 19 years with recreation teams, winning 10 titles during that time.
Krebs spent 16 years as an All-Star coach, which included baseball teams ages 7, 8, 9 and all three age groups in District 12 play. He also coached softball teams ages 8 and 9, and both groups of district teams. During Krebs tenure, Robbinsville won two local baseball titles and two 10-year-old baseball district crowns. In softball, RLL took a third-place World Series softball finish, two state and regional titles, four district and sectional crowns, and four local all-star championships.
In his near-two decades, Krebs has watched sons Steve and Ryan and daughters Shea and Haley play in the league. They are part of his proudest memories as he recalls Steve getting the game-winning hit against Allentown to give RLL its first district title in 2005; Ryan pitching a no-hitter in the 10-year-old state finals, Shea making the last out of the regionals at third base to put Robbinsville into the World Series, and Haley playing a flawless shortstop in the 10-year-old tournament, enabling all four Krebs kids to win a district crown.
And while tangible results will always be nice to reflect upon, what makes the two men feel truly good inside was dealing with kids and, in some cases, kids who have grown up.
“The thing that makes me most proud is that they still look to me for advice on the field long after their Little League days,” Krebs said. “Many have had successful high school and college careers. I’ll speak to them about little things they can adjust, throw BP to them; do fielding work. To them, I am still ‘their coach’ and that’s pretty cool.”
For Veisz, helping a youngster was consistently at the top of his list.
“Dealing with players has always been something I take very seriously,” he said. “I always try to help each player be the best they can be, to have no fear, to be active and to try their best. I try to help each player feel like they are a part of the team and help them understand how they can contribute.
“When kids feel like they did something to help the team, they go away happy and want to play again. I’m probably satisfied with my effort to spend the time necessary to help them develop, the time I’ve put in to get them the training, repetitions and experiences so they can perform on the field. I don’t hold back and always make time to do what they need to be successful.”
Both men’s contributions go beyond the playing field. Veisz is currently the vice president of softball and has served on the board for 14 years, while Krebs served for five years. The two first met 10 years ago and have coached together on several teams. They went out in tandem as they coached this year’s 12-year-old District All-Star team with Tom Walls. That team added another district, section and state title to the pair’s credit.
“We are buddies,” Krebs said. “We have coached Little League and travel softball together for about seven years, and we are trying to make one more run this year.”
“We have become good friends,” Veisz said. “We spend a lot of time not only coaching in Little League but we are also travel coaches together so all year round we hangout, coach the girls and spend time talking sports and having a meal to discuss what’s next with our team.”
No matter what they planned, the bottom line would always be the same—make sure the players enjoyed what they were doing while learning a few lessons along the way.
“My philosophy was to always to be fair and make it fun for every kid regardless of their talent level and to make all the recreation kids feel like this is a really fun game to play,” Veisz said. “I always wanted to see kids, regardless of their skills, play without fear, to know that mistakes are OK, to look forward to the next practice and game as a place to try again to be a little better than the last time they were on the field.
“I want kids to continue on with this great game of challenges that requires each and every player to develop a strong mental aptitude and to remain positive and to know that hard work will help you be successful. With All-stars I had the same approach except I just raised the bar and tried to push them to develop more quickly.”
Krebs, who has been involved in Little League since he was 7-years-old, emphasized just how special softball and baseball can be.
“I try to tell the kids to work hard at learning the game, whether that is on the field or watching it on TV,” he said. “It is a beautiful game if you learn all of its components. So, I work with kids on understanding situations and doing the fundamental things correctly. Use good form in fielding, throwing and hitting even if it results in errors or strikeouts. If you do those two things, they will have success.”
They will indeed. And having Steve Krebs and Scott Veisz as their coach certainly helped add to that success.