The iPhone alarm pierces through the blissfulness of sleep. It is 6:50 a.m. on this fine morning. While it is the first day of class, it is also the first day back with team lift. Christmas break is officially over, and it’s time to get to work.
I quickly pop in my contacts and brush my teeth, throw on a pair of jeans, long sleeve shirt, and of course my Pea coat and embark on the short walk from 90 to Conte. Last year, my roommate and I lived on College Road and dreaded those frozen mornings when we would make the trek down through campus. This year, it feels like a vacation.
The whole team heads to the locker room and gets dressed, as lift starts promptly at 7:30. Thankfully, there is no conditioning today, and most of us are out of Conte by 9:15 or 9:30. For those that have a 9 a.m. class, they are excused from lift a little earlier.
Next, we are off to Lower to grab a quick breakfast before classes begin. I have gotten onto the routine of five hard-boiled eggs and a cup of oatmeal. I don’t really even like it, but I force myself to eat it. Nothing tastes as good as fitness feels.
Around 9:50, I will get a coffee and head up to my first class. My favorite part of my day is walking through the Quad on my way to class—coffee in hand—and just appreciating the beauty of the BC campus, feeling the energy of a new day, and setting my mind to the tasks I have ahead. It is very therapeutic, especially after a tough lift. You never know who you will run into on the Quad. It is small things like those walks that I truly enjoy.
For this new semester, I have class at 10 and 11 today. After class, I quickly return to Conte to attend yoga class at the Plex. Like many athletes, I have horrendous flexibility, so I began to do yoga as a way to get a good stretch and have a lot of fun as well. I’m not talented enough to do what everyone else does. When it comes to my baseball career, I really try to do extra when it comes to training. There will be peaks and valleys during the year, but effort should never go in a slump. You only get one chance at your career, so I want to make the most of it.
Now it is around 1. I will shoot over to Hillside and have a sandwich (hopefully a Baja Chicken) and Greek yogurt before I return to Conte for practice.
We are in a very important part of our season right now. Obviously, the weather does not permit us to go outside and practice and scrimmage on our field. While many of our opponents are able to practice on their home fields, we must get creative in the bubble. Given that the majority of our team is from the Northeast, indoor baseball practices are an annual rite of passage. But the important thing is to not get complacent. There are many nights in the bubble when you can go through the motions and waste a day. Maybe you can get away with that attitude in high school because you are just more talented, but in college, and especially in the ACC, the gap in talent is so fine that the slightest things can mean the difference between winning and losing. Poor execution on a bunt coverage could be the difference between making the NCAA tournament and watching from home. Jogging out a pop up on a Friday night could swing the momentum of an entire series.
People always ask why baseball practice is so long, and why it seems like all we do is stand around. Compared to other sports, certainly baseball is not an aerobic workout. But it does require a harmony of physical strength and explosion coupled with a present, lucid mind. It is the smallest aspects of the game that can prove to be the most important. Our pitching staff has a saying—“The little things mean nothing, until they mean something.” You might think backing up a base is trivial until the right fielder overthrows the third baseman in a close game, allowing the winning run to score. At practice, we hammer home these fundamental plays so that they become second nature, so that when they happen in the ninth inning on the road at Clemson, you simply react, never think. That’s the other funny thing about baseball: if you think, you’re dead. The action happens too fast. To be great you have to trust your training, trust your instincts, and simply react.
As a pitcher, the most important thing is to develop a routine and stick to it. I have a daily checklist of what I do in terms of weight lifting, stretching, warming up, and recovering. I always warm up with bands, do my weighted ball routine, and then play catch and practice all my pitches. Because the season is so long, every player is bound to have ups and downs. The only way to get out of your slump is to continue to stick to your routine and trust the process. It takes a certain level of arrogance to play this game, especially pitching. Your confidence can never be shaken, so every day I follow my routine so that when I step on the mound I know I am ready to perform. The work has been done, now it is just time to compete.
Thankfully there is no homework to be done when I return to my room around 7. Had there been a serious paper to write or test to study for, I most definitely would have gone straight to the third floor of O’Neill. During syllabus week, however, our nights are free from the burden of books.
As I rest my tired body and spend time with all my roommates, often times I reflect on how lucky I am to be a student athlete. Being a member of the baseball team is my favorite aspect of life as a student at Boston College. It gives me immense pride to be able to be a part of the Birdball community, to play for something bigger than myself, and to interact with my teammates and coaches every day. I know I speak for many athletes when I reflect on how blessed I am to attend a top 30 university in the country and play baseball in the nation’s top conference. There is nothing better than that. Whenever I feel overwhelmed by academic assignments, or if I am putting pressure on myself to be a better pitcher, I always return back to the absolute privilege it is to be here.
Featured Image by Anna Tierney / Heights Editor