By David McDaniels
They say baseball is boring to watch, but not the way Byram Hills plays. It’s about effort and energy. It is about being selfless and being relentless. A lot of organizations in the school and in the county go down to Florida each year. Coach Saunders likes to say we were first to go. But it is not a shame that others have followed because if the other programs in the school and other schools in the section have the same experience as the baseball team does every year they are very lucky.
Sending 20 high schoolers down to Florida with only two coaches for a week sounds like a recipe for madness or a recipe for a coach resigning and never spending a day with kids again. But somehow time and time again the baseball team’s trip to Disney is perfect. Playing seven games on fields the Atlanta Braves play on, spending each day together for all three meals, and spending each night together at parks or the hotel bring the team together in a way that few other programs in the school or the section experience. As senior Antonio Aversa said after I nagged him for a couple minutes on the line for security at the airport, “The main thing about this trip is team bonding. It is really about becoming a family.”
The trip kicked off Monday morning at 3 a.m as the bus rolled away from BHHS with the 22 all half-asleep at best. Following this was a six-hour delayed flight which included two deboardings, some eight-hour naps, a rock paper scissors tournament, and a lot of complaining. Stil,l we got through it, and we were off. Upon landing in Florida, the 40 degree difference in temperature was embraced and the trip officially began.
Scrimmages began soon after that and the team went 2-0 on the first day. That night the team bonding began as the kids went to the first park. If you ask Coach Saunders he says that this time is almost as important as the time on the field. One of the team goals coming into the year is to become a family and that is what this time accomplishes. The trip really does work magic. Eighth graders and seniors realize that they have a more in common than they think. A team can really work together.
The trip progressed and between food runs and baseball game,s the team started to take form. Despite losing three straight scrimmages the team was re-energized for the final two games on Friday. In the first our 5-foot, 6 kid from our small school struck out a UNC commit standing 6-foot, 5 from a Long Island powerhouse. Then in the second game, the only official section one game, the team rallied behind strong pitching from Ryan Steeg and Will Bernstein to beat John Jay. And yes, we flew 1,000 miles to play John Jay which is about seven miles from here. But it was all worth it. Spencer Karp, a sophomore on the trip for his first time, said, “The baseball, the hanging out it was all a great time. And I cannot wait for next year!”
So when the trip concluded and we got off the bus at the High School on Saturday evening happy but exhausted, the power of the trip showed. As one kid stood up and said, “who wants to go to get sushi tonight?”