Baseball is a tradition in Joel Polites' family - his grandfather, father and older brother all played - and it's a tradition he wants to keep going.
Polites, Northern Cambria's senior shortstop/right-hand pitcher, will sign a letter-of-intent at his high school today to continue his playing career at Pitt-Johnstown. Polites signed the actual document back in November during college baseball's early signing period.
"I just think it's a great school,'' Polites, who also visited LaRoche, said of his reason for choosing UPJ. "When Coach [Todd] Williams got hold of me, I was very excited.''
Polites said he'll get an opportunity to pitch if he likes, or he'll be a utility player for the Mountain Cats.
Polites has made the Mirror all-star team the last two years as an honorable mention pick at shortstop. As a junior, Polites hit .474 with a .571 on-base percentage, scoring 23 runs and only striking out nine times batting in the No. 2 slot.
"He's a great baseball-minded kid. He works seven days a week at it. He's got a good glove, a good eye. He's just an all-around good player,'' Northern Cambria coach Jason Rechichar said. "He's a team leader.''
That's what one might expect from a third-generation player. His grandfather played in the industrial leagues. His father was a highly regarded power-hitting outfielder - Joel hits more for contact.
Polites has been playing ball since he was hitting it off a tee at the age of 5. By the time he was 9, he was working with one-time Dodger farmhand Rick Roberts and major-league relief pitcher Mike Holtz at the ERA Sports training facility in Johnstown. He considers one of his proudest achievements making a team in the Johnstown Pony League as a 13-year-old, when he played for Jerry Maser.
"Coach Roberts and Coach Holtz has been so instrumental in everything I've done. I'd really like to thank Coach Roberts, Coach Holtz and Coach Maser,'' Polites said.