Kenmore West Blue Devils benefit from trip to Florida
As the Kenmore West Lady Blue Devils softball team gets into the thick of the Niagara Frontier League schedule they are buoyed by the benefit of their annual spring training trip to Florida.
The 17th season the Lady Blue Devils have gone to Cocoa Beach, the team had a weeks worth of intense quality practices and two scrimmage games as they prepared for the season.
"I think it's always valuable because of the amount of practice that we get in down there," coach Matt Chimera said.
"We start at eight in the morning and we don't come off the field until 1p.m. and when we scrimmage, we scrimmage at night, so it's like a second (session) during the day."
Spending a week in Cocoa Beach, Chimera, his staff and chaperones made the sojourn with 14 players-11 varsity and three from the junior varsity line up.
Playing two scrimmage games against Sequoia High School, the Blue Devils put in a weeks worth of the most intense practices they will see all year and far more detailed than most of their opponents will traditionally see.
Chimera added that while his girls certainly work their hardest while practicing at home, their work ethic is even more focused during the Cocoa Beach trip because they aren't distracted by the grind of daily responsibilities such as school, home work, a job and chores at home. They can focus all their time, effort and energy on softball only duties.
"What you can do down there when you have their full attention," Chimera said after an April 14 practice on their home diamond at the Ken-West Athletic Complex.
"For example, today we had a typical two, two-and-a-half hour practice and we had a good practice. But it's nothing like what goes on down there when you have their full attention. They know they are going to be there for that amount of time. They're gonna work their butts off for that amount of time, but then they're going to have the day to do some other things. Whether it's go to the pool or go to the beach."
But while the Florida trip helps kicks up the learning curve and makes the girls all better players on the field, the true value of this ritual comes in the form of how it brings the players closer together.
"I think another big part of the trip is the fact that these kids live together for a week and they get pretty close," Chimera said."Each night that we don't have a scrimmage we do some sort of team challenge or team bonding event activity. This years group,I think, has been better than a lot years. It was one of the best trips ever and certainly the best in quite a few years."
Very early in training camp Chimera told me that he thought this group had something special about them.
That they had the kind of unselfish, team first mentality. The kind of mind set and heart that makes a good team great. Chimera also said that there was no division in age as the varsity and JV girls blended as one family.
Calling back on Blue Devils history, Chimera once again brought up the comparison of the 2001 and 2002 teams that he coached. Chimera said that while 2001 likely had more skill on paper, the state winning 2002 team had the kind of bond that set them apart and made them special. Much of that bond was created while in Cocoa Beach.