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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

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Feven Getachew
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Michael Lozada
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Nathan Hoffman
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Harvey Wilhelm
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Men’s baseball goes for gold in early morning practices

Zach Jones 20’ and Matthew Inaba 22’ at batting practice just weeks before the team’s first game

If you happened to be in the gym at 5:45 a.m. from Jan. 27 to Feb. 1, you probably saw the baseball team during their fitness testing. Throughout the year, players primarily train on their own in preparation for the spring season. But for one week, the team gets together to achieve the elusive gold standard.

Each player aims to hit a gold standard of performance in each of the eight testing categories, emphasizing power, agility, speed and verticals. There is one gold standard across the team for each test, but each player aims to have personal improvement or consistency for the week.

“[Each player] will establish testing goals, so if they do “x” amount this time, the expectation is for them to match or improve that goal. The entire focus is on each individual player’s growth and development so they will continue progressing and growing,” said Tim Hollibaugh, head baseball coach.

The gold standard is relatively new for the team, and there are still issues that need addressing. If players do not achieve at least four of the eight standards, they face consequences, such as not playing games or having restricted access to practice.

“It’s pretty upsetting and doesn’t seem like the best way to get necessarily better at baseball if you can’t go to baseball practice,” said Gabe Shubert ‘20.

A week of intense fitness testing at 5:45 in the morning is difficult for anyone, let alone a Grinnell College student balancing academics and employment. Additionally, the universal gold standard poses problems for many players who are not built to reach those goals.

“There’s a fair amount of people who hit the gold…I think it should be by bodyweight, that would make more sense,” said Nate Lu ‘21.

“I think anytime there’s a uniform standard for every person to hit, I’m kind of skeptical of that just because never in my life, no matter how hard I train, I’ll never be able to squat 405 pounds even with six months of training,” said Shubert.

Hollibaugh did note that he has tried to make the testing as accessible as possible for the team, as he is aware that the players are students first. Part of this accessibility is advocating for personal improvement with the goal to hit the gold standard.

“And if anybody has a conflict with [testing], we allow them to not do the testing and attend the events that are needed. I believe the organization of it allows them to know when we’re going to do it so that they can make adjustments to their schedule, and we have the flexibility to allow them to attend the events that are needed,” added Hollibaugh.

While the week of testing was grueling and tough, the players acknowledge that it helped make them stronger and bring the team together.

“Most people definitely have this sense that sets in like, ‘Yeah this really sucks and none of us really want to be here,’ but then we get over it and everybody seems really happy by the time it’s over. I see how forcing us to do that and go through all of that together pushes us closer, I think a good thing which comes out of it is the solidarity that we build with each other,” said Shubert.

Hollibaugh believes that this testing will help prepare the team for success in the upcoming season. If the men can push themselves and set personal records before the sun rises while balancing their academics, then they can push themselves to perform at their peak during the season.

“The toughest opponents we have are ourselves. I think we’re talented enough to compete with anybody on our schedule and really, it’s just the guys coming mentally and physically prepared and ready to compete. We’re focusing on who we are, what we need to do and play team baseball. I really believe if we can live up to what the players expect and what their goals are, we’ll have a great season,” said Hollibaugh.

Men’s Baseball begins their campaign against Central College Saturday Feb. 22 at 5:45 p.m.

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