These newcomers are not afraid.
Miami is off to a 6-1 start and it’s in large part thanks to the 15 new comers. Their ability to adjust to the D-1 game has been the key.
It’s a known fact that there is a huge difference between high school and college in the speed, mentality and the way the game is played.
College freshmen athletes have to adjust to this new level. The role that the upperclassmen baseball players have to play to get their underclassmen mentally and physically prepared for playing at a different level is vital.
“Playing with the older guys is fun and challenging because not only do they help guide you through your first year but they are always on you too,” freshman outfielder Michael Broad said. “They make sure you keep on task which is especially tough your first year as there is a lot of distractions.”
Assistant head coach JD Arteaga said this is critical for success.
“The biggest thing is passing on tradition,” Arteaga said. “The older boys have been with us for about three or four years so they know what it’s like. It’s the tradition to help them out and one of the biggest contributors of that is Chris [Hernandez].”
Returning Saturday starter junior Chris Hernandez is all about being a team leader and helping the new boys as much as possible.
“I try to be [the freshmen’s] friend because it builds team chemistry,” southpaw Hernandez said.
Junior reliever Iden Nazario believes it’s not just the physical part of the game the freshmen need to be aware of.
“As for helping the guys mentally, I tell them first and foremost it’s a long, long grinding season. Physically they need to maintain their bodies to avoid them from breaking down and having injuries,” Nazario said.
Nazario says staying optimistic and positive is the key.
“Mentally you always have to keep moving forward. If you make a mistake or have a bad game, to brush it off and think and worry about the next play or next game. There isn’t room for constant mental laps or errors. Think and analyze what happened, what caused for you to do whatever you did wrong and then work to get better. Always move forward,” he said.
Freshman midweek starter Steven Ewing tries to stay focused in order to have a successful season.
“I am staying focused on the goal [this season] which is going to Omaha, and always remember that everything we do is amplified whether it is good or bad,” he said.
Moreover, senior pitcher Michael Rudman from Miami gives his freshmen teammates advice on what classes to take each semester and how to go about living life during season.
“I tell this to all the new kids: it’s going to be an overwhelming [the season]. The key is time management. Get into a routine that will work. Juggling baseball, school and a social life is very tough but you have to do it and not stress yourself out too much,” he said.
This is his fourth year being a student athlete and he feels he has a lot of experience and advice to help the freshmen pick a schedule that will benefit them during the off-season and season.
Picking the right classes during a grueling season is very important.
“Take as many classes as you can in the fall that work towards your degree. For example, I am in accounting and this past year I took four accounting classes and one elective. During the season it’s important to ease the load. Take one or two classes toward your major and some other electives that way the load isn’t too much. We will be missing a lot of class time and it’s going to be tough to catch up. So an easier load is ideal,” Rudman said.
For newcomer Rony Rodriguez, this upcoming weekend is going to be a big litmus test to see how the team gels together against the stout Florida Gators.
“Never,” Rodriguez said, referring to whether he has ever been part of an intense rivalry like UM and UF. “But I’m really looking forward to it.”
Michelle Salom may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.