by Anthony Vassallo
The baseball season has begun at SUNY Purchase. Players are meeting every Saturday, and following COVID-19 guidelines that will help prevent them from spreading the virus to one another.
After an exhausting process, athletes are excited to begin batting, pitching and fielding again. “They were all put through rigorous medical clearances, which included recent COVID testing and will continue to require COVID testing as the semester continues,” wrote Head Coach Adam Taraska, in an email.
Countless decisions were made before the baseball team was permitted to practice. “Our summers are always busy. This summer was like a summer on steroids,” said Chris Bisignano, the athletic director at Purchase. “Things that would normally take us an hour to two hours to do takes us literally, weeks to do sometimes.”
The work that goes into permitting a team to practice during this pandemic is astronomical. “We have to be tested weekly for COVID, to practice,” said Dylan Flynn, one of the senior team captains.
The baseball team practices every Saturday, but they’re doing so in two different groups, one that meets at 5 p.m. and the other, at 7 p.m. Fifteen members are at each practice and are separated into two “pods;” one pod has seven players while the other has eight.
The COVID-19 guidelines prevent teams from practicing in groups larger than 10, “We want to make sure we are better than what the minimum is,” said Bisignano. “The most important thing to me is health and safety.”
Players, trainers and coaches must wear masks at all times, and the players have to separate their equipment from one another. Taraska wrote, “All of these changes are minor inconveniences and pale in comparison to what the alternative is - not being able to practice at all.”
According to the team captains, practices have been a home run so far, as the team hasn’t seemed to miss a step. “The atmosphere of the practices have been very positive and energetic,” another senior team captain, Joshoa Ferro wrote in an email.
Flynn added, “Everyone has to be accountable for themselves, if somebody’s not pulling their weight then the team’s gonna fail… With the exception of two guys who live in Virginia and Florida we’ve had 100% attendance at practices.”
Cody Hennequin, another senior captain said, “Everyone wants to get back together, not just to play baseball but just to hang out again, you know we’re a big family.”
Ferro, agreed in an email, “This is more than baseball and on this team we’re a family, we stick together and pick each other up.”
Taraska also noted, “They are willing to do whatever it takes to be able to practice and they have proven that. The mental aspect of teamwork is paramount right now. They are in this together.”
Purchase fans should be excited about the upcoming season, “A lot of people are watching us, not just our school but other schools as well,” says Hennequin.
Most of the past champions of the Skyline conference have been experienced teams. Purchase’s roster this year includes 10 seniors. Flynn seemed confident that the shortage of full team events and delayed practice won’t affect chemistry, “I don’t think it affects it a crazy amount, because the only people you have to acclimate with are the freshmen.”
Being the first team that is allowed to practice at Purchase comes with important responsibilities. “If baseball has to shut down that stops the next wave of teams starting up,” said Bisignano. When Flynn was asked if he feels pressure in this situation, he said, “It's not so much pressure, because we want to do it.”
Coach Taraska said, “I believe each of us has a civic responsibility to do our part to knock this virus down.”