Weekends in the Munsch household flew by like a 90 mph fastball.
On Saturdays, Jason Munsch, who at age 11 pitched a no-hitter in a Little League All-Star Game, played baseball. After the final out, Dona and Keith Munsch drove their son to meet his fellow Scouts wherever Troop 566 was camping that weekend. And when Jason returned home on Sunday, he finished homework and got ready for another week of school.
“A lot of it was getting over how scary it sounds,” Jason tells Bryan on Scouting. “As long as you’re willing to dedicate yourself to a decently busy schedule, you’ll be just fine.”
Jason’s “just fine” is underselling it.
Those weekend trips, plus one or two Scout camps each summer, added up to 50 nights of camping each year on Jason’s way to earning the highest rank in Scouts BSA: Eagle Scout. He was a successful, bright student who graduated from Concordia University with a degree in biology. And his baseball career?
In June, the Eagle Scout from the BSA’s Silicon Valley Monterey Bay Council signed with the Milwaukee Brewers organization, proving that a dedicated Scout with supportive parents can reach for their dreams without compromising a thing.
“Focus on your sports when they’re in season, but don’t give up on Scouting,” Jason says. “Stick with it, and you can achieve your Scouting goals.”
Minor league baseball during COVID-19
While the minor league baseball season has been shelved because of the pandemic, Jason isn’t getting the summer off. He’ll participate in online meetings with the team and complete workouts and training programs on his own.
“It will be two months of personal dedication to the sport,” he says. “I’ve been given a throwing plan, but it’s on my shoulders to stick with it and get as good as I can for when the season starts up again.”
With the kind of dedication Jason demonstrated as a Scout, there’s no question he’ll be ready for that big-league call-up.
Bryan on Scouting talked with Jason and his mom to learn more, including advice any parent of a busy Scout will want to read.
Memories built in Scouting
Nobody remembers the troop trips where everything goes perfectly. Overcoming mistakes and solving problems is part of being a Scout.
Jason’s favorite Scouting memory is the perfect example. Troop 566 had planned a hike at Mount Tamalpais State Park in California. The Scouts had budgeted about three hours for the 6-mile journey.
But recent rains meant the original trail was washed out, and the troop had to take an alternate route that was 13 miles long. It was dark by the time the troop got back to camp — eight hours after they left. They cooked that night’s meal by lantern light.
”As awful as it sounds, it surely is memorable and makes for a great story,” Jason says.
Comfortable being uncomfortable
That kind of story is exactly why Dona Munsch, Jason’s mom, was eager for Jason to join Scouts. She wanted Jason and his older sister, Jessica, to try activities that would “help them be comfortable with being uncomfortable.”
Jason was two years younger than his classmates. At school, this made Jason somewhat cautious — worried he wouldn’t relate to his schoolmates’ interests.
“Scouts gave Jason an outlet to be with kids of all ages,” Dona says. “It helped him develop leadership skills to interact more confidently with the older Scouts but also created a community of friends his own age and the opportunity to mentor younger Scouts as well.”
Jason thrived in this leadership role. He loved teaching younger Scouts how to do cool things like start a campfire or build a quinzee.
”It was great to show my newly learned skills in the field,” he says. “I had more fun, though, watching the Scouts below me grow and learn new talents and skills.”
A home-run Eagle project
If there’s one piece of advice to give a young person brainstorming Eagle project ideas, let it be this: do what you love.
That advice worked for Jason, who completed an impressive overhaul of his community’s Little League baseball facility. He built a concrete ramp leading to the parking lot, constructed a fence near the T-ball field, laid down a crushed-gravel walkway and painted over graffiti.
“It taught me a lot about budgeting and keeping track of multiple tasks at once,” Jason says.
He also learned a lot about leadership, which is essential in baseball — especially when you’re the pitcher. All eyes are on the pitcher, who controls the pace of the game and helps his teammates be prepared for what’s next.
“The time I spent as a leader in Scouting has carried into any group activity I do,” Jason says. “I don’t think I would be nearly as confident with representing my team if I had never been in Scouting.”
A pro pitcher in the making
Keith Munsch says he saw his son’s big-league potential during that Little League All-Star Game where 11-year-old Jason dominated the best hitters from across Northern California.
But Dona’s ah-ha moment came a few years later. In Jason’s junior year of high school, he had a tough start to the season. He walked three batters and was pulled from the game. He didn’t pitch for three weeks.
Rather than lamenting the unfair treatment, Jason showed the kind of tenacity that had helped him overcome camping mishaps and difficult merit badge requirements.
He sought out additional help to improve his control and accuracy and turned to a trusted adviser (coach Ric Foley) for help.
In his next game, Jason pitched five innings. He walked one, gave up one hit and struck out 12.
”I saw a confident young man demonstrate grit, bounce back from a tough situation and absolutely own the mound,” Dona says. “It was at that moment I thought he might be able to make it to the big leagues.”
Building a well-rounded youth
Dona and Keith recently reviewed the rosters of their area’s top 11-year-old Little Leaguers from Jason’s time as an All-Star at that age. Ten years after that season, only two are still playing baseball: Jason and one other.
Dona and Keith use that fact not to brag but as a reminder that Jason’s success is the exception, not the rule.
The couple knew this ever since Jason began participating in competitive youth sports. They introduced him to Cub Scouting because they wanted him to learn things like global stewardship, leadership skills and community engagement. They wanted him to find interests outside of sports that could become a career. For Jason, if pro baseball didn’t work out, he wanted to be a zoologist or forestry ranger.
They wanted him to have confidence leading small groups.
”Ungainly and shy at first, Jason became polished and competent at handling a broad set of ages, personalities and challenging exchanges,” Dona says. “This parlayed into confidence on the mound and with classmates and teammates.”
With Northern California’s year-round pleasant weather, Jason could’ve played baseball 12 months out of the year. But rather than put all attention toward Jason’s budding baseball future, Jason’s parents widened the strike zone.
”The balance of other sports, adventure travel, Scouts, academics and even video games helped reduce injury and general burnout that was very common with many of the boys who did year-round travel ball or secured coaching year-round,” Dona says. “Preparing your child for many possibilities and to encourage an abundance of passions paid off for Jason.”
Thanks to Michelle McIntyre, media relations lead of the BSA’s Silicon Valley Monterey Bay Area Council, for the blog post idea.