Illinois Wesleyan baseball coach Dennis Martel repeated over and over how unbelievable the Titans’ post season run was. I’m sure he must have housed a butterfly garden in his stomach, but you’d never know it on championship day.
Before the final game even started, he encouraged his players to appreciate the environment in which they were playing.
“Get out of the dugout, enjoy the moment, take a look around,” he told them.
“Look in the stands, create a memory.”
A short walk and survey of the crowd brought an observation by one of the Titan players that should have been clear much earlier.
“This must be a big game, our president is here boys,” he noted after seeing Illinois Wesleyan president Dr. Richard Wilson in the stands.
Must be a big game?
Perhaps it wasn’t the greatest game this year, but what’s most important is that the game is played at all.
The annual Horenberger-Bass Classic, a cross-town rivalry between Illinois Wesleyan University (NCAA D3) and Illinois State University (NCAA D1), saw a nice crowd and pleasant although slightly cool evening even if the final score showed the widest margin of victory since the two teams renewed their rivalry in 2004.
With last year’s game losing out to a rain storm, Illinois State made up for lost time and jumped on top early,
leading by a 7-0 count through the first seven and a half innings. During that time, the Redbirds looked every bit the team that is currently leading the Missouri Valley Conference.
But a four run rally by the home team in the bottom of the eighth gave Illinois Wesleyan fans hope, only to see the Titans surrender five runs in the top of the 9th for the final 12-4 outcome. Continue Reading
It’s a bit late in coming since the game was a week ago, but it’s still worth commenting on.
The topic is Division III basketball, and in this case, a recent game at Illinois Wesleyan University, home of the Titans.
There are those, and I have many friends that fall in this category, that just don’t like college basketball in the “non-scholarship” division.
“They aren’t athletic enough,” I’ve heard them say.
“They’ll never make a professional team.”
“I like the atmosphere in a big arena.”
It’s the last comment I especially don’t agree with.
Although crowds vary in size at every athletic venue, it’s always an intimate and electric environment at IWU when a conference team comes to town.
On this night, it was Augustana and their colorful coach Grey Giovanine. Continue Reading
The bus is scheduled for a 7:30 a.m. departure, and everyone is early or on time. Some board with pillows in hand. As is true of many college campuses these days, most have an iPod or similar digital musical device. Twenty active players shared most of the thirty seats, along with one hobbled player in a protective boot, a trainer, two coaches and a soccer fan disguised as a photographer. That fan was me.
The opponent this day was Webster University, with a scheduled noon game time. The drive is 187 miles. This is the life of a Division III soccer player.
I would imagine the trade off between leaving earlier to arrive earlier is a tough decision for the coach. Waking in the six o’clock hour on a Sunday morning is early for most college kids, and it was for this fan as well. Continue Reading
College baseball coaches have a different look this spring, thanks to a new rule that mandates wearing a helmet when coaching the bases. The NCAA passed the rule last September that states “It is required that base coaches wear a helmet. Play will not continue until compliance with this rule is met. It is recommended that the helmet meet NOCSAE standards.”
On July 22, 2007, Tulsa Drillers (Colorado Rockies AA affiliate) first base coach Mike Coolbaugh was hit by a line drive and died an hour later.
The tragedy resulted in Major League Baseball implementing a helmet requirement last season, and the NCAA has followed suit in 2009. The rule has received a very lukewarm reception from baseball coaches in professional baseball (Larry Bowa at one point said he would pay a fine for all 162 games to keep from wearing the helmet, only to acquiesce when he was told he would be ejected every game he didn’t wear one). In the college game, a similar response has occurred.