AuGres-Sims baseball players gear up for spring training in Florida
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AuGRES – The AuGres-Sims baseball team will be getting a different kind of spring training this year when they travel down to Tampa, Fla., on March 31.
Assistant coach Gary Foco said they are the first team in Arenac County to participate in the Tampa Bay Spring Training program.
“We raffled off a four-wheeler and were able to raise $12,000, to take care of the four-wheeler and pay for the trip,” said Foco.
Foco said 12 students and four chaperones will be heading south for the trip.
“There are about 14 teams from Michigan going down,” Foco said. “And we will be joining 125 to 150 other teams from different states.”
Program Director Steve Nadel said the spring training program schedules are flexible depending on schools’ spring breaks.
“The spring training programs start at the beginning of March and run until the end of April,” Nadel said.
Foco said he got interested in the program after his nephew participated in the spring training and said it was one of the best experiences he has had in baseball.
“The program started in 2006,” Nadel said. “It puts teams in a baseball-rich environment and exposes participants to the college environment as well.”
Nadel said the program varies depending on the teams participating in the program.
“We tailor each program to the objectives of the team,” Nadel said. “If they want a more baseball-intensive program, then we put them in a program that has two games a day with night training, so it’s baseball all day, every day.”
Foco said the training program AGS students are signed up for is one of the more baseball focused programs.
“It’s baseball every day,” Foco said. “We will be participating in different clinics each day, ranging from pitching clinics and regular practices.”
“The program also shows the kids what it’s like to be a college baseball player,” Foco added. “So it will give them experience and an opportunity to beef it up and practice.”
Nadel said the spring training gives participants an opportunity to see a higher level of baseball.
“Being in St. Petersburg, Fla., it allows the kids to see all levels of baseball, from the college level to minor and professional levels,” Nadel added.
According to Nadel, the program is about more than just training.
“We want to expose the teams participating to the history in St. Petersburg and educate them on who has been there before them,” Nadel said.
“It’s also a cultural experience for some, meeting new students and players from other states and even countries,” Nadel said. “There is over 100 years of history here, and being a part of spring training opens minds, creating team and lifetime memories.”