Players compete on summer teams

by Rahul Raina | 10/6/11 10:00pm

by Ying-Qi Wong and Ying-Qi Wong / The Dartmouth

Joining summer teams has long been a way for athletes to stay in shape while away from their fellow College players and coaching staffs, and to learn from athletes outside of the immediate Dartmouth community.

Baseball shortstop Joe Sclafani '12 estimated that around "95 percent of the baseball team plays in an NCAA sanctioned summer league each year."

Sclafani played for the Morehead City Marlins in the Coastal Plain League over the past two summers, and in the New York Collegiate Baseball League over his freshman summer. Sclafani said summer leagues are a great way for athletes to fine-tune parts of their game that troubled them in the previous season.

"For example, each year I tried to target something about my defensive game and worked on it in all of my summer games," Sclafani said in an email to The Dartmouth.

Outfielder Jake Carlson '12 said summer baseball is an "invaluable experience" for players on the baseball team.

"Playing every day puts you in game situations that will inevitably arise during the spring, making you more confident in your abilities when those situations arise," Carlson said in an email to The Dartmouth.

Preparation during the off-season can be especially important for fall athletes, who must use their time for much-needed rest and to get into peak shape for the upcoming season.

Men's soccer co-captain Lucky Mkosana '12 said that playing for the Michigan Bucks in the Premier Development League this summer served as invaluable preparation for the fall season.

"I think this improved my skill, technique and game fitness," Mkosana said in an email to The Dartmouth. "I definitely learned a lot from that experience. To me, the summer [term] is the most important one in trying to get in shape and starting off the season flying."

Mkosana has had a superb season so far, scoring seven goals to surpass Egil Stigum '56 for second on Dartmouth's all-time scoring list.

The players that benefit most from joining summer leagues are often those who did not find much playing time during the previous season. Those Big Green athletes can then seek to supplement their in-season workload with additional repetitions.

Pitcher Max Langford '12 found it difficult to get many innings during the 2011 spring season, and said the "experience, more than the physical practice" was what helped him most when playing over the summer. Langford echoed his teammates' sentiments, and said he could practice to make specific improvements over the summer.

"The repetitions in pressure situations are really what helps the most," Langford said in an email to The Dartmouth.

For those Dartmouth athletes who do not have the opportunity to play on teams during the off-season, the summer mostly involves personal training and rehabilitation.

"It's usually every man for himself," squash player Luke Lee '12 said in an email to The Dartmouth. "[Summer training is] totally voluntary, so whoever wants to push hard works hard and whoever doesn't, doesn't."

Unlike baseball, squash is an almost wholly individual sport, and the team does not emphasize joining an off-season team. Lee noted, however, that many players seek help from "local pro coaches" when they are home to help them improve their skills.

Many Big Green endurance athletes concentrate on cross-training during the summer break, rather than focusing on their particular sports.

Lightweight rower Josh Sans '12 said he focused "mostly on fun, outdoors activities" that gave him a respite from his sport over the summer. Pursuits such as running, biking, hiking, kayaking and yoga kept him in shape and allowed him to recharge his batteries after his spring season.

"People on the rowing team have all sorts of summer training plans," Sans said. "While some row for the national team, many spend their summers training outside the water."