I just finished my first year playing collegiate baseball at Colby College in Waterville, Maine. Growing up in California, I was able to play baseball outside year round. Playing collegiate baseball in Maine has been a major change. This was the longest winter on record in 40 years, and the baseball field at Colby was covered in snow from late November until mid April. This left us without a field to practice on, which caused us to get creative.
At Colby we are fortunate to have a field house on campus; this is not something that exists at all East Coast schools. There are many positives of having a field house. All of our practices happen in the field house during these snowy months. In the field house we are able to have a full infield practice with baserunners. Pitchers are able to perfect their pitches inside on portable turf mounds, and players are also able to work on their swings in the indoor batting cages. In the field house we are able to run sprints and use weights after practice to stay in shape. Mentally, we know we are practicing and getting better every day, compared to other schools on the East Coast that may not have a field house.
The need for communication is also important in a field house. Sound carries and the noise level can be overwhelming. This means that paying attention to coaches and other players is imperative towards having a successful practice.
There are, however, some disadvantages to a field house. It is not the size of a full baseball field, which means we are only able to have a full infield and half an outfield. Height is another issue. The field house roof is only thirty feet high, so there are not a lot of opportunities for us to practice fly balls and pop ups. The low field house roof changes our approach to hitting. Our team hits a lot more linedrives and groundballs than a team that has the opportunity to practice outside. This can carry over to the season, leading our team to plays a lot of small ball. Regardless of these challenges, our team is very grateful to have a field house on campus so that we can get in much needed practices.
The cold weather also affects our schedule. We start our season during our spring break during the last week of March in Florida. For all of us this is the first time we have seen grass since November. During this week we play ten games against other teams located in cold weather climates. After Florida we return to snowy Colby College and our familiar field house. We practice indoors to prepare for the NESCAC league games in early April in Connecticut and Massachusetts. In about mid April, we had our first home game against Thomas College, a local Maine school. Our season finished with a double header at Amherst College during the first weekend of May. Although it was a hectic season, with 31 games in six weeks, I feel like we were the best prepared indoor baseball team. My first season at Colby College was a great learning experience, and I wouldn’t change for the world.