Things To Do During Offseason

7 Things College Students Can Do During The Baseball Offseason To Survive The Drought

Baseball is over. Now what?

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The MLB season concluded in late October, and it's been a rough month and a half for all baseball fans. Instead of wallowing in sorrow that baseball won't be back until April, here are some things you can do.

1. Pick up a glove and have a catch

Whether you've played baseball since you were five on Coach Drupert's Little League team or you picked up a glove for the first time today, just having a catch with a friend is not only a fun activity, but it'll help you stay (or in my case, get) in shape for next season.

2. Watch another sport

To fill the empty hole in your heart that was caused by the MLB season ending, fill it with another sport. Especially the NBA or the NHL, since those seasons start right when baseball ends and will carry you through until the beginning of next season.

3. Actually study

Crazy sounding idea, right? Let's just say there were some late nights when the MLB postseason was going on, especially when game three of the World Series lasted until after three in the morning. While baseball is over and many are curled up in fetal position waiting for it to return, focusing on studying probably is the smarter idea than watching a baseball game all night. Smarter, not better.

4. Use the offseason to break in a new glove

After a season filled with hard work, it might be time for a new glove, especially if someone's fastball ripped a lace on your mitt. No, Tyler, I'm still not over it. Since you have to go through almost six months of an offseason, this is the perfect time to break in a new piece of leather so you're not working with a brick on your hand on Opening Day.

5. Join a fall league

Whether you want to play or help coach a team, there are plenty of leagues and tournaments that play during the fall, so whoever thought of the idea to extend baseball into the fall, thank you.

6. Stalk ESPN to tune into free agent signing

The one good thing about the MLB offseason is that big name players will be on the move, whether it be via trade or free agency. Especially this offseason, the free agent pool is the biggest it's ever been. Keep your eyes glued to ESPN to see where the big names are headed next season.

7. Find a batting cage

Whether it be for fun or for training, hitting up a batting cage is always a good time. Check one out with your friends or teammates for a great time and to improve your swing for next season.

Yes, it sucks that there's no baseball until April, but hopefully, these seven things will help you recover from your deep depression that the MLB season has ended.

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Why An Athlete Is Not Defined By Their Level

Pressure can drive athletes crazy.
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With tryout season among us, it is so important that this be addressed before the teams for this upcoming year are formed.

So many athletes that tryout, don't make the team they want and either quit to "take a year off" or jump ship to a gym that promises them to place the athlete on a higher level. I know that every athlete wants to be on level 5 team, the division is the most prestigious of all of them, especially because going to worlds is the end game for most athletes.

The problem these days in the cheerleading world is that our athletes are trying to level up at a rate that is just not quite realistic. If an athlete is on a level 1 team, the chances of her being on level 4 next year are slim. It is necessary for athletes to experience each level for at least a year to learn all of the fundamentals of the level and build on them for their foundation as an athlete to be more concrete. This produces the best athlete possible.

A lot of athletes think that all that they need to jump levels is tumbling and that is just not the case. When teams are formed, coaches take a look at many different things, these qualities include but are not limited to: mental toughness, dedication, tumbling, stunting abilities, pace of learning, dance and attitude.

Contrary to popular belief, there are so many factors that go into forming a team. This team not only has to be suitable for individual athletes but putting a team together is like a puzzle and as coaches we have to put a team together that will work well and have all the necessary percentages of skills to be competitive in their division.

We are concerned about building well-rounded athletes, not an athlete that is only capable in one facet of cheerleading. Some athletes are great level-4 tumblers but have level-2 stunt ability and those two will not equal a level 4 athlete until we boost the stunting ability of said athlete.

Putting an athlete on a team to just tumble is doing a disservice to not just the team, but also the athletes themselves. If this athlete joins a level 4 team to just tumble all year, when their tumbling progresses to that of a level 5 athlete, they will still have level 2 stunting skills and won't be put to good use when they are level 5 eligible. A well-rounded athlete is the kind of athlete that wins Worlds.

SEE ALSO: To The Coach That Took My Confidence Away

When athletes take their time and learn their level, they are not just learning completely new skills each year, but building on them. If done correctly, each year an athlete should improve on all points of cheerleading and not just one. The rules in each level lead to progressions for the level that it directly follows, so that athletes can safely learn skills by going up the ladder one step at a time.

What most don't realize is that skipping steps is such an unnecessary practice. If Susie stays on level 2 for an extra year, she is not "learning nothing", she is improving on the skills that she didn't quite execute completely the year before, this will perfect her performance in this level and give a more solid foundation for her to build on when she is on a level 3 team.

Pressure can drive athletes crazy. Parents, your athletes have so many years ahead of them to be on a level 5 team and go to worlds, so pushing for a 10-year-old, that is just not ready, to be on a level 4 team is unreasonable. Let your 10-year-old learn maturity and mental toughness at a level that is more appropriate, when your athlete is pushing herself too hard it takes the fun out of the tryout process and creates unnecessary stress on the athletes.

Lastly, please be sure to support whatever decision your coaches make for your athlete's placement, they know your child and they are not trying to hurt their pride, but build them up so they can accomplish all of their goals as an athlete. Know that the level your kid makes this year doesn't define him or her as an athlete, but helps them grow into the cheerleader they have the ability to become!

Cover Image Credit: National Cheerleaders Association

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Dexter Fowler Deserves An Apology

Roughly a fourth of the way through the season, it's very clear that a lot of us were wrong about Fowler.

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Baseball is a mental game just as much, if not more of a physical one. Baseball is one of those unique games where failure is present at all times. If you hold a .300 batting average, you've got a pretty good chance of getting into the Hall of Fame. For context, Ty Cobb holds the record for highest career batting average at .366 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame. In any other sport, if you're only successful 30% of the time, you're rarely viewed as excellent in your sport.

But I don't think the nature of the game usually sways fans from shortsighted opinions and conclusions about the players, especially if they're on our own team. Cardinals fans went through something very similar with our own Dexter Fowler, and some of us really dragged him through the mud. In the second year of his five-year, $82 million deal, Fowler had the worst statistical years of his career. A .180 batting average with a .278 OBP were the cornerstones on what was a very confusing year for many Cardinals fans.

But I want to be very clear when I say that there were two camps with the Fowler situation: those who thought the year was simply a statistical outlier and those who thought that Fowler was at the end of his career, the Cardinals were foolish to give him the money and that the team would be better off trading him if they could find a suitable trade partner for such "broken goods". And maybe this is just my biased Cardinals Twitter point of view, but I felt like the second group was definitely the vocal majority.

But what I think we often forget to remember is there are real people out there playing that game. As weird as that may sound, sports fans often forget that athletes are just as vulnerable to the mental lows that plague so many everyday Americans. Dexter Fowler spent the majority of last season in a deep depression that was both caused and a source of his poor performance on the field. And I'm sure all the negative press he got and the angry fans in his mentions didn't help in the slightest.

But the Cardinals never gave up on him, and for good reason. The numbers Fowler has put up this season are outstanding thus far with still roughly 80% of the season left to play. The commitment the front office showed to Fowler is a reflection of the culture established that makes players want to come and play for this organization. The Cardinals never gave up on him, and so many fans should have taken that same approach. As I said earlier, those are real people out there playing in those Cardinal uniforms.

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