A custodian opens the doors to Hinsdale South for students and faculty at 6 a.m., but on Monday baseball coaches Paul Hoel and Dave Isaacson were already in the building long before that.
Hoel, the Hornets’ varsity coach, and Isaacson, an assistant coach, had already arrived around 4:50 a.m. for the start of preseason baseball practice. After coaching his team in summer baseball, Hoel might already have a pretty good idea of who is on his team for this season. The opening of preseason practice is more formally known as the first day of tryouts. Everyone gets a shot.
I was reminded of that when nearly two dozen Hinsdale South boys reported for Hoel’s first of many early morning practices this week. Hoel’s varsity roster included 19 players last season. That’s enough to field a team for both varsity and JV games during the season.
I was reminded that some of the boys in the fieldhouse early Monday morning may not be around in a few more days when Hoel must make cuts to his roster.
Spring practices try the patience of the most patient coach. Monday morning began the delicate song and dance of scheduling practices for a season with far too many sports to accommodate. It looks like it will be a while before any spring sports can hold outdoor practices. That’s why baseball started in the fieldhouse at 5:30 a.m. On Monday, preseason practices started for badminton, softball, girls soccer and baseball. All under one roof. Boys tennis also started, but those practices are usually held at a local racket club. Boys and girls water polo have exclusive use of the pool.
I am married to a former high school softball coach, who use to get up early mornings just to meet her team for batting practices in the cages before school. Once the other spring sports get going, space is at a premium for just about every high school in the Chicago area. At some schools, you’ll see track and field teams practicing in the hallways. Some of those teams actually place hurdles in the hallways so that athletes can practice their steps.
Hoel reminded his players to get to bed early. Since tryouts for lower level baseball teams are being held after school, the varsity will continue with early morning practices for a while. On its first day, the varsity were already hitting soft toss balls in converted batting cages in what was the school’s wrestling room a few weeks ago. The wrestling mats have been put away in storage until summer camps begin. Softball has access to a separate room for batting cages closer to the school’s swimming pool.
There is an old saying from coaches about attending practices and meetings: “If you’re not early, you’re late.” It was true Monday as baseball players reported to tryouts long before the sun was going to come up. Not a single player for Hoel’s first day of tryouts arrived after 5:30 a.m.