With the explosion of new summer college leagues in the last several years, college players and their coaches are faced with many more opportunities to develop their players than in the past. But as we all know, more is not always better. Here’s a checklist of questions to ask your potential summer college baseball team when deciding where your best options lie:
- Who is the ownership? Is there financial stability behind the organization? Does ownership have a baseball background? Does ownership have other successful sport franchises in their portfolio? What is ownership’s goal of owning sport franchises? Is it simply to win? To develop players? Can the ownership’s philosophy fulfill your goals as a player?
- Who is the team’s coaching staff? What is their knowledge and experience? Have the coaches played or coached professionally? Are they evidence-based decision makers? Do they have an academic background? Do they have knowledge in athlete healthcare? How many coaches does the team have? While it may be par for the course in many college programs, less than three coaches within a summer organization is not optimal.
- What is the team roster size? Too big of a roster and there isn’t ample opportunity for players to get enough reps. Too small of a roster and players do not get enough recovery time. Communication between the coach and player before the season is imperative when it comes to playing time. Ask the coach how many players he plans on signing that play your position.
- Does the team provide the opportunity to do early practice on the field? Some teams put the work in to improve their players and some don’t. BP and early work should be provided almost daily, with exceptions for long stretches of games where time off is required.
- How is the community? Does the summer team provide the opportunity and expectations for players to get involved in the community? These events are invaluable to the players, not only for their baseball career but future career and life skills. Engaging with fans and community members builds character, respect and appreciation the player will remember and reflect on for a lifetime.
- How are the facilities? How is the stadium? How about the clubhouse? A player should expect ample space and cleanliness of surroundings in the clubhouse. Gym memberships are provided by some summer college teams, but many do not provide this amenity. A high-quality local gym where a player can train is a must.
- How many games does the summer college team play? Too many games can cause attrition. Not enough games leaves the team and fans unengaged. The proper ratio of regular season and play-off games builds excitement for players, coaches and fans.
- What is the stability of the team and league?Are teams often starting and folding? How long has the league been operating? Does the team charge a fee? These answers speak to viability of the teams and league.
- Does the team provide an opportunity for exposure to affiliate and Indy-pro teams? If scouts are not directly present in the stands, what connections does the summer college team have? Is there a history of quality players that went on to play at the next level?
- What’s the living arrangement? Does the team provide host families? The quality of a host family can greatly influence the experience. The team should be putting a big focus into this aspect.
- What’s the arrangement with food? Are you provided meal money on the road? At home? High level summer college baseball should be providing food for its players.
Summer college baseball can be great experience. A brotherhood not unlike what the daily grind of professional baseball can create. Relationships made between team mates, host families and young fans. An experience that should be cherished for the rest of their life.
If you can check the box in being satisfied with the answers provided to the above questions, there’s a very good chance you will have a great summer college experience. The key will be putting in your own research to find your best fit to reach your goals.
Greg Morrison spent 12 seasons as a professional baseball player in the Los Angeles Dodgers and Toronto Blue Jays organizations, notching 1,000 hits and 100 home runs in his career. Owner of the Medicine Hat Mavericks of the Western Major Baseball League (WMBL) since 2009, Morrison now uses his playing experience to compliment his present career in sport performance and injury rehabilitation; he is the owner of Morrison Movement Therapy which operates in Medicine Hat, AB, CAN.
The Mavericks were the 2018 WMBL Champions, but take more pride in their community and player development.