Spring break road trips take area teams out of state

Thanks to spring break trips this week, Florida is being overrun with high school baseball and softball teams from Kentucky.

From this area alone, baseball teams from Boyle County and Garrard County and the softball team from Mercer County are spending the week in the Sunshine State. Add to that Lincoln County baseball’s trip to Myrtle Beach, Boyle County softball in Tennessee, and Mercer County track and field in South Carolina, and it’s hard to find a game going on in the state.

Aside from grabbing some sunshine and time on the beach, this week’s Monday Mailbag wonders what coaches hope to accomplish with these trips.

1. Spring break is here, and many of you are taking out-of-state trips. What types of things are you hoping to accomplish with these trips? Are they more important for on-field teaching or team building, or both?

Kyle Wynn, Boyle County baseball: This year we are in Ft. Walton, Florida. It’s a great week to be away from everything and focus on baseball. School is out so there are no tests to study for, etc. It’s a great week for team building no question.

Brian Deem, Boyle County softball: We always go the Clarksville, Tennessee, for two days. I want out-of-state high level competition. To me, I can get high level games for a small fraction of the cost in Clarksville rather than go to Florida for a week to play Kentucky teams for $15,000. We use it for both; we are always teaching through wins and losses, and always building team chemistry. The analogy I use is the growth of an apple. We want to always continue to ripen, because once you are ripe, the next stage is to rot. So we always work on team chemistry and continue to grow.

Terry Yeast, Mercer County track: I would like to accomplish getting my kiddos in better shape and give them an opportunity to compete against out-of-state competition. I also want mine to get a chance to get to know their teammates in a very fun and relaxed environment. I am all about relationship building.

Todd Montgomery, Garrard County softball: We took a weekend trip earlier in the season. I like to have the opportunity to play games against teams we know nothing about. It makes us have to focus on what we want to do. If we do what we do best then we usually play well. Team bonding comes by relying on one another and being with your teammates throughout the trip.

Jon Vaughn, Casey County track: We are making a trip up to Lexington to run, jump, throw at the GRC meet at Transylvania. Practice will be normal as we have almost everyone staying in town this week. We will try to fit in a team get together. One thing the Casey County track and field team is known for is enjoying hanging around each other and just spending time with their teammates.

2. With these trips, how do you balance between staying competitively sharp and letting the kids enjoy themselves?

Wynn: Our motto is “business trip.” We are here to play baseball and win — that’s priority number one. But when there is downtime, we are going to enjoy ourselves and time together as a team.

Deem: We play Friday and Saturday at the beginning and end of Spring Break. We give them four to five days off to be kids. I think you have to let them still be kids and enjoy themselves. So those days off away from ball is good. When they return on Thursday for practice, then we refocus.

Yeast: I think we will have a good balance. We will train in the mornings and relax at the beach and enjoy go-karts and other activities. We are also taking a college visit to Coastal Carolina University.

Montgomery: We always remind the players that they need to have fun with your teammates while  playing the game. If you place too much pressure on yourself then the enjoyment and fun of the game is lost. I let them be teenagers during downtime and in return they are relaxed and loose for games. The chemistry and bonding built through the season is huge come district tournament.

Vaughn: Since we are just going to Lexington for our track meet, we will try to keep practices as normal as possible.

3. Gonzaga or North Carolina — who ya got tonight?

Wynn: Gonzaga because of their defense and depth.

Deem: Gonzaga. I respect Coach Mark Few and what he’s built. He’s had his opportunities to leave for bigger schools, but has stayed loyal to the school who gave him his shot. In the process, he built a national name for his program.  

Yeast: North Carolina, they’ve been there and know how to win. It will be an overwhelming experience for Gonzaga.

Montgomery: In December, I picked UNC, Kansas, Oregon and Duke as the four likely to win the championship. Now since we have gotten to the Final Four, I have been rooting for Gonzaga and South Carolina to win it. I do think that UNC wins due to their experience from last year’s game, plus they rebound so well. Gonzaga does have the size to battle with the Tar Heels on the boards, but in the end North Carolina pulls it out. Plus they get the most favorable whistle from the referees of any team in the tournament.

Vaughn: UK! (Thinking of next year already!)

Follow Jeremy Schneider on Twitter @jschneideramn