Controlling the prep

Practice is no easy task for the baseball team

By Emily Gaffney ’12

Snow, blustery winds, and frigid temperatures are characteristic of Northeast Ohio winters. Each year, coach Marc Thibeault ’98 must prepare the baseball team for the coming season in these conditions. He begins preparing for the upcoming season in mid- May, once the previous season ends. The coaching staff evaluates players’ strengths and weaknesses to work on during the summer.

Per Division III NCAA regulations, the team is allowed 19 weeks of participation, which are split between the fall and spring semesters. The team trains for four weeks during the fall, which includes using the weight room to build players’ physical strength. During this time, coaches evaluate players’ adjustments since the previous season. The remaining 15 weeks are during the spring when players begin practicing six days a week.

Thibeault

Part of the team’s preparation is determining a theme for each season. This season it’s controlling the preparation.

“In anything you do, the only thing you can control is your preparation,” Thibeault says. “You can’t always control the outcome, but if you do a thorough job and invest time, hopefully, the outcome will be favorable.”

Preparation isn’t always an easy task, however. The team faces the challenge of working around weather conditions and scheduling conflicts. Thibeault has to be able to prepare the team amid unpredictable Northeast Ohio winters. Whether it’s because of snow, rain, or flooding from rain or melting snow, the baseball field often is unusable while the team is training. Practicing at all on the field before the season begins is unlikely.

“I can remember being on the field one time before the spring trip – that was my senior year,” Thibeault says.

Even though weather has been a challenge, the team has turned it into a strength.

“The sign of a great team is how it approaches and overcomes those challenges,” says varsity baseball player Tom Hickey ’12, a finance major from Orland Park, Ill.

The team must be prepared before the students’ spring break, during which the team travels to Florida to participate in games against Division III teams. They’re often the team’s first of the season.

To prepare in the midst of unpredictable weather, the team practices in the gym and on the football field two days a week, weather permitting, to simulate a more game-like atmosphere.

Thibeault also has to work around students’ academic schedules, which supersede everything. Once accommodations are made for classes, the team works around other Carroll teams that are using the same facilities. So Thibeault decided the team needed to find another place to practice to alleviate the demand of Carroll facilities. A few years ago, the team used off-campus facilities at Spire Institute in Geneva, Ohio. However, Spire was a couple hours from campus. This year, the team moved practice to a Force Indoor Sports facility, which is closer to campus. The facility has batting cages and larger facilities that make it easier to simulate game situations.

“It’s not the most ideal situation,” Thibeault says. “We’d certainly like to have it on campus, but it’s a win-win because it accommodates baseball and the other student-athletes.”

This season, the team is taking advantage of better-than-usual weather.

“We’ve been blessed this year,” Hickey says. “Having a mild winter allowed us to practice on the football field more, which gave us an edge at that point in the season. We were more prepared than ever to start the season strong.” JCU


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