The dugout diaries: A Torero baseball player reflects on his experience as a student-athlete at USD

By Jack Shannon

As the majority of the student population enjoyed winter break at their respective homes, the men’s baseball team was hard at work training for the upcoming season. Intersession provided us with an opportunity to focus solely on baseball and come together. We took part in a series of teambuilding exercises and activities to strengthen our team chemistry. The theme of our intersession training was “we must persevere as a team in order to succeed.”

Week one intersession consisted of five straight days of workouts in the weight room with strength coach Matt Couch. The workouts consisted of three physically and mentally challenging cross-fit style workouts that incorporated teamwork and dependability.

“The workouts set the tone for the 2013 season as we participated in a grueling week of workouts that tested everyone’s mental and physical toughness,” said senior catcher and outfielder Austin Green.

The conclusion of the weeklong workout program marked the beginning of the annual ten-day “World Collegiate Baseball Classic” a mini team tournament created by the coaches. The mini tournament consists of ten countries with two hitters that compete against the pitchers to earn the most points possible. Examples of positive points are quality at-bats, walks and hits. Examples of negative points are strikeouts, failure to execute and pop-ups. For the pitchers, it was all about throwing strikes, getting ahead in the count and getting the leadoff batter out. Team Netherlands, consisting of catcher Dillon Haupt and infielder Logan Davis, won the tournament.

Nothing stands out more over intersession than taking part in Navy SEAL training led by ex-Navy SEAL and current USD strength coach JP Bolwahnn. The physical part of the training was difficult, but it was no different than what we had faced before. The truly challenging part of the training was the mental aspect. We were put in foreign situations that we had to overcome both individually and as a team. Instead of arguing and yelling, we had to effectively communicate with one another to achieve the task at hand.

“Everyone who participated in SEAL training suffered mentally and physically at one time or another,” said senior pitcher Trevor Bayless. “Although it was a grueling three days, the team bonding that resulted is something that will resonate over the course of the season.”

Overall, the Navy SEAL training was beneficial to our team. It tested our mental and physical strength and showed us the makings of a team of warriors.

The mental side of baseball is as important to team success as physical ability, and Coach Rich Hill has made a point to address this with annual team meetings with mental training consultant Karlene Sugarman. The meetings consist of setting team goals, creating a mission statement and working on our mental approach to the game. This year’s mission statement comes from our Navy SEAL instructor: “It pays to be a winner.” No matter the arena you compete in, success pays off in some shape or form.

The 2013 baseball season will be a memorable one for Torero baseball. Newly constructed Fowler Park will be opening its gates on Feb. 15 against the San Diego State University Aztecs. We are ranked in every major preseason poll, setting the bar high for this year’s men’s baseball team. More than ever, I urge the students to come out and support us, especially during the inaugural series at Fowler Park against the rival Aztecs.