Spring break is something that every college student looks forward to, but it represents something different for me as a member of the Georgetown baseball team. For us as a team, spring break represents the start of a season.

Every year we venture down to Orlando, Fla. for the annual Rollins College Baseball Week, one of the oldest spring break tournaments in the country. This year we took on Rollins, Maine and Penn in a week-long, nine-game stint that kick-started our long season.

But the trip is about more than just baseball. It gives the team time to bond, to hang out with family and to focus on the sport that we love.

We left for Orlando on the Thursday before spring break. On the bus we were addressed by Head Coach Pete Wilk, who, in typical fashion, offered us a reminder about the point of the trip.

“Remember fellas, this trip is about baseball. It’s not about booze, beaches … or broads.” Our team immediately broke out in laughter; we all recognized the truth in his statement, but we couldn’t help but chuckle at his delivery.

A couple of hours later we arrived at our hotel in Winter Park, Fla., a small town just outside Orlando that is home to Rollins College. Our hotel is always a staple of the trip; we’ve been staying there for as long as anyone can remember. It’s an old Best Western that, while not comparable to the Ritz, has come to be known and loved by everyone on the team.

One thing that our trip never has a shortage of is free time. This year we were scheduled for mostly night games, meaning that for most of the day we were free to do as we pleased. Movies, fishing, trips to Planet Smoothie and even iPad monopoly helped us pass the time. Not glamorous, per se, but enjoyable for us all the same. (If you see him around, ask junior outfielder Rand Ravnaas about being the self-proclaimed king of iPad monopoly.)

Aside from these activities, another big part of our trip is prank-playing. Far and away the most popular prank is the “leaner,” when someone fills a trashcan full of water, leans it against another player’s door and knocks. The resulting flood, innocent as it may sound, can be a real hassle to deal with — which, of course, is the point.

While these things may kill time effectively, the real fun of our trip is the baseball. With each day comes a new game and another chance to get better as a team. The week gives our pitchers enough time to settle into their roles, our hitters enough at bats to develop a comfort at the plate and our defense enough exposure to a baseball field devoid of snow and rain to get into a defensive rhythm.

More than the physical progress we make during the trip, though, the week allows our team to develop some mental toughness. Given that we play every day, we are forced to make a habit of bouncing back mentally from tough losses and staying even-keel after big wins. This sort of discipline will eventually come in handy during tough conference play.

Overall, the tournament was a success. We came out with a 5-4 record and left the tournament on a two-game win streak.

Leaving Orlando we were exhausted but closer than ever as a team. Fast forward one week, and we are on a hot streak that Georgetown baseball hasn’t seen in a long time. We completed our first series sweep in five years last weekend against Princeton and are on a seven-game win streak.

It seems as though our baseball break was just what we needed, as that combination of relaxation and baseball has sparked a winning start to our season.

 

James Heine is a sophomore right-handed pitcher on the Georgetown baseball team. His journal, Inside The Diamond, documents the team’s life on the road.

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