Manhattan College Jaspers started the baseball season this past weekend. For infielder Matt Forlow, it feels like a fresh new start because the team has an entirely new coaching staff.
“This year is just different from all the years prior,” Forlow said. “Everything is new for us, the style of coaching, style of play, different philosophies when it comes to hitting and defense. It’s exciting.”
The change has certainly brought life to the program but the main goal remains the same.
“To win the MAAC championship, the conference,” outfielder Paul Genners said. “But my daily goal is to perform my best so I can help everybody else do their job.”
For pitcher Matthew Simonetti, having the Jasper community in the games will help them reach their goal.
“We used to play at Van Cortlandt Park (VCP), and just having your family around, your friends coming to the games and support you makes you try harder,” Simonetti said. “You really want to show off your hard work. It brings more energy out of you.”
Increasing the student’s attendance to the baseball games would be a big motivator.
“You’re focusing and involved in game but you’re definitely seeing who’s in the stands; having people you associate with on a daily basis watch you perform what you’ve been working on for years is a big motivator” Forlow said. “It would be a huge plus if we could get that done.”
When the games were hosted at VCP, a bigger crowd from Manhattan College attended the games.
“It definitely helps, it affects our kids, they play a little bit harder,” head coach Mike Cole said. “Our goal is to bring the students, we’ve talk about bus trips. Students would enjoy baseball games, it’s just difficult to get there.”
But a new coach and not playing at VCP anymore aren’t the only differences this season.
“We used to be up at 5 a.m. everyday at Draddy before,” Genners said. “But now we practice in the afternoon outside in Gaelic and we do offense inside at 6-8 p.m. in Draddy. Twice a day the practice is a little bit more focused and efficient than it has been in past years.”
A typical practice for the team includes 15 minutes of stretch, 15 minutes of a throwing program, position play for 30 minutes, team defense for 30 minutes and finally, 45 minutes of offense.
“All the coaches that we’ve had in the past have brought a new set of eyes, new drills we haven’t done before,” Genners said. “A lot of our players have really benefited from that.”
Cole, who was named head coach back in August, brings the best out of everyone.
“He has a really good understanding of what it takes to be successful at MC in this conference,” Forlow said. “He has coached here before, he has won before.”
But when no one is watching is when you really have to get the work done.
“If you walk by Draddy, you would see us in the cages, a lot of those times is not with our coaches, it’s just guys getting extra work in,” said Genners. “We do a lot of reading in theories and fundamentals from professional players and coaches, looking at new drills in social media, we work constantly. We’re really excited and prepared”
Cole wasn’t surprised with the talent and level of maturity of the team.
“In the first couple of weeks, we went one-on-one, to see the talent that we had and get to know the guys, understand their personality and how they like to be coached,” Cole said. “We’ve been preparing since Sept. 1st.”
The first four weekends will be the most challenging for the team.
“I want our guys to be challenged,” said Cole. “The MAAC this year is as good as it’s ever been. But we’re gonna be able to compete for a MAAC championship.”
His strategy is what he calls “old-school.”
“We’re gonna be competing on every pitch,” said Cole. “I want our guys to play hard.”
Cole is clear in the team’s potential.
“I’ve coached in this conference for 10 years, we put [the players] in a situation to be successful,” said Cole. “Now is their time to go out and do what they’re capable of doing.”