O’Connell hopes to help North Farmington baseball get back to the top

By: Mike Moore | Farmington Press | Published May 3, 2011

 Mike O’Connell has been a part of the North Farmington baseball program for each of the past 14 years, serving as the junior varsity head coach for the past 10. He’s in his first year as head coach.

Mike O’Connell has been a part of the North Farmington baseball program for each of the past 14 years, serving as the junior varsity head coach for the past 10. He’s in his first year as head coach.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

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FARMINGTON HILLS — He’s seen it happen before, which is why he knows it can happen again.

Mike O’Connell has been a part of the North Farmington baseball program for the past 14 years, serving as the junior varsity head coach for the past 10.

But when Kevin Kansman, who was the head coach for the last three seasons, resigned following the 2010 campaign, O’Connell had the chance to step into the position. Now, as the head man for the school’s top baseball team, his ambitions rest squarely on getting back to the top after a couple of seasons of finishing around .500.

“When my son started playing here and I started coaching here in 1997, there was nothing but competitive teams and quality players,” O’Connell said. “It was a winning program every single year. That’s what I want to get this back to.”

His 14 years at North Farmington has played a large part in making the transition to varsity skipper easy. At the same time, O’Connell has long coached travel teams in the summer, so the manager job is hardly new to him.

“Those teams were in high-level travel leagues with elite players, so I’ve gotten used to the whole head coaching aspect of it,” he said.

When asked to assess his team during his first year thus far, the Farmington resident said things were somewhat incomplete right now, but the initial signs were good.

“We’ve had so many games cancelled. I’m still figuring out exactly what I have,” he said of the season and his team, which was 4-2-1 at press time following a 7-6 victory against Bloomfield Hill Andover April 29.

Winning isn’t something O’Connell figures to struggle with. During his time with the JV, his teams averaged roughly 15 victories a season, including an unbeaten campaign in 2008.

The Raiders are relatively young right now, with only a few veterans and a majority of underclassmen. O’Connell hopes to use that to his advantage as he begins constructing his ideal program.

“If we can start developing these younger guys and molding them into varsity players, that’s when we’ll really see the results,” he said. “That’s going to make or break this season. If those guys start contributing the way I think they can, we’ll be in good shape as the season winds down and we approach the district playoffs.”

In the same breath, he spoke of his desire to remain as a fixture with the Raiders for years to come.

“Before coach Kansman, the same coach was here for about 25 years, and when you have that consistency, it helps with the feeder programs and the development from one year to the next,” O’Connell said. “That’s what I’m working toward. I want this program back to the tradition of success it used to enjoy.”

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