It is the time of year where we all take a step back and reflect on the great things in our lives and the people the surround us that make it so. But rather than using this post to state my thankfulness for my own personal friends and family (which is best performed by actually saying it, preferably in person), I would like to take this opportunity to list the five things about Lake Erie Baseball that I am thankful for.
1. The Lake Erie parents. Knowing how important my parents have been in my life, this seems like a no-brainer. But we always get in trouble when we take special things for granted and while each individual parent is special to each player in their own way and deserve their own spot in the countdown, the collective group of parents occupy the number one spot. It is only November and I can tell this is a special group. Our players have already played in front of more people during the fall than most teams will play in front of during their spring. This was evident during the Storm Fall League championship game which featured an array of family, friends, and in some cases, wives that would rival attendance numbers for some conference tournaments. But even more remarkable was the number of parents who attended mid-week intersquad games that took place at 4 o'clock in the afternoon. Add these factors to the list of sacrifices each parent has made for the past 18-22 years already and you have the number one reason to be thankful to be a part of Lake Erie Baseball.
2. Players who want to win. I can count on one hand the number of times a player has been late for, or missed a workout since September. This of course includes a series of 6am weight training sessions at the start of the fall and 9am practices on the weekends. It is very easy for players to get excited at the start of the fall and the start of the winter practice, but it is a very different thing to keep that level of excitement and enthusiasm throughout the course of the year. In order to go places you've never gone, you must do things you've never done. With all the distractions that can get in our way, I am thankful for a group of people who truly want to play baseball and do all that comes with that privilege. This doesn't always produce the results we want, but it definitely make it easier to show up to work everyday.
3. Joining the GLIAC. On the field, this may be the most important for the program's stability. Since I was first exposed to college baseball back in 1999, I have always had the opportunity to compete for a conference championship. I can say this is something that I have taken for granted. I was not in on the ground floor of this rebuilding process and did not experience life as an Division II Independent. This I am thankful for. I cannot imagine having to play the majority of my games on the road because of the lack of a conference schedule. The last two seasons while at North Central, there were always 21 games cemented in the schedule that would allow for at least ten home games a year. Something that should not be lost in just having a conference schedule is the opportunity to compete in a conference that has had a representative in the College World Series the past two seasons, not to mention five teams advancing to NCAA Regional play in those years. Clearly this is one of the best conferences in the country which by that fact alone should elevate our level of play.
4. Working with a knowledgable and energetic staff. Working year-round in the game I love is worthy of it's own spot on the list but working with great people makes it that much more rewarding. It also makes it more fun when the coaches not only love baseball, but love the coaching in general. I am thankful for working with coaches who swear by the fundamentals but are also willing and eager to try new ideas. I am thankful for being able to be my own coach and have fun with the different tasks at hands. I am also thankful for coaches who absolutely love their team and are willing to do anything to make them better. Playing college baseball yielded some of the best years of my life and I am thankful for the opportunity to provide the same opportunities to players now.
5. Classic Park. While it would be nice to have an on-campus facility of our own within footsteps of the Osbourne Center, the opportunity to play at one of the finest minor league parks in the country is another reason to be thankful to be a part of Lake Erie baseball. For the majority of the players in our program, it will be the nicest field they will ever play on. Aside from the field, the other opportunities at Classic are worth noting. The ability to take batting practice on the field, hitting in the tunnels, and the use of the clubhouse is something that should not be taken lightly, and we are thankful to the Lake County Captains for their cooperation.
There are many more reasons to be thankful for being a part of this program but we'll stop at five. On behalf of everyone at Lake Erie College and the baseball team, I would like to wish baseball fans everywhere and their families a Happy Thanksgiving!