Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Eye of the Storm, Part IV

As Brett Farve just showed us, everyone needs a day off now and then. Such is the case for college student-athletes. Even as demanding and time consuming as being a Division II collegiate athlete can be, there is, believe it or not, time to relax and hang out with friends among other things.

Intramurals - Osborne Fitness Center
Basketball can be a great way to stay in shape and it can also keep the competitive juices flowing. Fortunately, Lake Erie offers a number of intramural programs to keep students busy throughout the year including flag football, volleyball and dodgeball among others. Basketball remains the most popular among the Storm baseball players and takes place in the auxiliary gym located in the Osborne Center (pictured right). The team usually competes through the Thanksgiving holiday, at which point their fun on the court is put on hold until the next season. With the winter practice season beginning once classes resume in January, there is not much time for IM Sports (which works out because baseball players are prohibited to participate during the season).

Apartment Life - Founders Court and Lydia Sessions Hall
Whether its playing XBox, PS3 or even an old school Nintendo, video games are always a part of college life and off days. I believe the trending choice of which game to play is Call of Duty but it could be something completely different once classes resume in January. A popular location for team video game sessions are on campus apartments such as Founders Court (pictured right).

Once a student enters his junior year, they are eligible to move into on-campus apartments. The rooms feature one or two-bed layouts with 12' x 19' common area complete with an 8' x 10' kitchen area and bathroom. Most of our upperclassman live with this setup or move completely off campus in houses or apartments. The coaching staff does not interfere with the rooming assignments and leave this responsibility to the staff in the Residence Life department and the players themselves. Players can room with, but are not in any way limited to, other baseball players.

Student-Athletes Advisory Committee (SAAC)
This group gathers to "facilitate communication between the student-athletes and the Lake Erie College Athletic Department (courtesy Lake Erie website). Student-athletes are nominated, selected, chosen from each of the 23 intercollegiate teams on campus to help with community activities and promoting teams on campus as well as many other activities. Each sport has a representative or two but all student-athletes are encouraged to attend the bi-weekly meetings and various events.

Up next...Part V: Spring Training (coming in January)
Hopefully you've enjoyed a look into the life of a college baseball player. The next installment of the Eye of the Storm will hopefully feature a daily account from the current players on the team, following them throughout an actual day during the winter practice season. But because winter practice sounds depressing and college teams do not actually leave for spring training (or when they do, the games actually count towards their record), I will refer to the five weeks of indoor practice as spring training from this point forward. See you in the sun!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Eye of the Storm, Part III

The first two parts of the all-access pass finished with our student-athletes wrapping up practice at Braggs Field. The inside look featured an early morning workout at the Ritchie Athletic Center, breakfast and lunch at the Holden Center, class in the College's academic buildings, and finally practice at Kiwanis Park.

12:00 pm-4:00 pm - Individual Workouts
Osborne Fitness Center
After the fall season, each player is allowed two hours a week to spend working with their respective coach at their respective positions in small, four-man groups. Each session is one hour each and occur on two different days during the week. The pitchers use each session to work with Coach Sankovich (pictured right) on various aspects of their craft. This year, Coach Sank opted not to have the pitchers throw bullpens (much to the catchers delight) instead focusing on their balance and overall delivery mechanics as well as their arm strength.

Infielders and catchers have their training sessions split into offensive and defensive segments. The catchers get their defensive work in with Coach McGee while the infielders work with Coach Bunnell. Both groups work with Coach Cormell on their offense with the outfielders who hit during each session.

This format lasts four weeks through the week of Thanksgiving. The NCAA rules permit this activity to run up until a week before finals. The players also continue their strength and conditioning three days a week that involves lifting, agility work, and speed training.

7:00 pm-9:00 pm - Study Table
Arthur S. Holden Center
Once the final out of the SFL is recorded and fall ball is completed, the players are required to attend two, two-hour study sessions which are held in a classroom in the upstairs of the Holden Center. All freshman are required to attend as well as upperclassmen with a sub-2.5 GPA. While in study table, the student-athletes have the option to utilize the classroom's computers for anything class-related, whether it is typing a paper or researching a project (sorry Facebook). There is also an opportunity for players to review any upcoming exams, papers or projects with Coach Sank who is the team's academic supervisor.

Up next...Part IV: Off Days

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Eye of the Storm, Part II

When we left the team yesterday, we had just finished breakfast at the Holden Center. But the next part of the day fuels the reason for being...at least being at college, and that is the class time. Each schedule will vary but many of the players will be in class from either 8 or 9 am through the mid-afternoon, ending roughly at 1 or 2 pm, enough time to grab a lunch, change, and get to practice on time.

8:00 am-2:00 pm - Class Time
Austin Hall, College Hall, Garfield Center, Holden Center, and the Royce Hall for the Fine Arts and Performing Arts
The majority of classes take place in the Garfield Center (pictured right) which also holds faculty offices and the Institute for Leadership, Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The Austin Science Center was renovated and reopened in 2010 and will be ready for full classes in January. The new center is the home of chemistry, math, environmental science and pre-veterinarian programs. Also, students studying in San Salvador and the Bahamas use Austin Hall as their "hub." Players are encouraged to schedule their classes early to accommodate the team's practices which take place in the early afternoon.

2:30 pm-5:30 pm - Practice
Braggs Field at Kiwanis Recreation Park
The practice home of the Storm is located just off-campus in downtown Painesville. After class, the players drive down to Braggs Field (pictured right) at Rec Park for a three-hour workout to complete their baseball day. During the week, the Storm baseball team practices three days during the week and twice on the weekend. The field itself features newly constructed dugouts with pro-style seating. During the construction of the dugouts, grass was added to the baselines. Last season, the bullpen mounds were demolished and reconstructed and now feature two mounds in each bullpen.

Braggs Field sits adjacent to Britt Stadium, home of the Storm football and track squads. The Britt received a facelift in the off-season and now features a field turf playing surface which is utilized by the baseball team when inclement weather makes an appearance, still allowing for the team to take ground balls and long toss. Underneath the stadium bleachers sits the Storm batting tunnels which are used rain or shine and allow for hitters to get plenty of swings each day at practice.

Up next...Part III: Individuals

Eye of the Storm, Part I

Because winter sucks and we're still seven weeks away from the start of winter practice, I think we all need a distraction to get us through these next few months. With that said, we're taking a look at the past while keeping our eye on the future and our mind in the present by taking a look into a day in the life of a Storm baseball player. For the look back, we'll get a glimpse into a typical day during the fall semester.

For the Storm baseball program, fall ball roughly begins after Labor Day, about three weeks into the start of the semester and lasts five weeks. During those five weeks, the team spends two days a week in the weight room and five days a week on the practice field. The next few entries will describe how players balance academics, meals, practice and college life.

6:00 am - Rise and Shine
Dickinson, Fowler and Ritter Halls
During the fall, players get an early wake-up call for a morning lift. The actual time each player wakes up will vary depending on their proximity to campus. But when the players do get up, most of them leave from their 144 square-foot living areas which come complete with two twin beds, dressers, and desks. Even though the campus is now wireless, there are high-speed internet connections in each room. If a player doesn't have his own computer, he can head down to the lobby and use one in the computer lab, located adjacent to the laundry room and kitchenette.

6:30 am - Getting Swoll
Ritchie Athletic Center
I really don't know how "swoll" became part of the Storm lexicon but it's alive and well and using it has become as essential to a baseball player as breathing. And with a facility like Ritchie Gym (pictured right), it's no wonder. There are at least 14 platforms attached to state-of-the-art racks with Eleicko bars along with stretch bands, BOSU balls, physioballs along with many other strength tools to aide the baseball team in their strength training. Twice a week the Storm baseball team gathers in Ritchie on days of practices to supplement the fall development. Once fall ball ends, the team meets three times a week. There are days where the team will stay home and workout at the Osborne Center.

7:30 am - Refueling
Arther S. Holden Center
After an intense workout to start the day, the team makes their way over to the dining hall to refuel before class. Each player on the meal plan has the option to visit the cafe for three squares a day and can eat as much as they want during each trip. In addition to the dining hall, the Holden Center features the campus bookstore, residence life, campus security, as well as classrooms and a 24-hour computer lab.

Up next...Part II: Class Time