This is our first message for 2021. We have received several inquiries asking what our pre-season workout plan looks like. As you know, we operate under the guidance of numerous governing bodies to include CHSAA, Jeffco School District, NFHS and at the same time we are trying to adhere to National (CDC) and State of Colorado (CDPHE) regulations and best practices related to COVID-19 (CV-19).
Rest assured that the safety and well-being of our student-athletes is our highest priority. That means CV-19 risk mitigation, focus on academics first, and on baseball specific strength training and conditioning to minimize injuries. Monday was the first day that we could use Jeffco facilities as a sport that is scheduled to play this year in CHSAA Season D. Please remember that we are in pre-season. We have split the “known to us and interested in playing baseball students” into 3 groups – Navy, Gold and C-Team. Players aligned with Navy met Monday on Cougar Field wearing masks, a smaller group consisting of pitchers and catchers then held a second meeting inside since the temperature was dropping. Navy aligned players were briefed by Coaches Lipka, Farmwald and DeBerry. Gold aligned players will be invited soon to meet with Coach Schmidt followed by C-Team players who will meet with Coach Smith.
At today’s Navy meeting we discussed program expectations, issues and timelines and asked for input from players and coaches on their pre-season availability and what they would like to see in a pre-season program. We also gathered player information which will allow us to create a text messaging service through MaxPreps. MaxPreps is free but we must populate the player information using their formats. Coaches and players aligned with Gold and our C-Team will do the same thing (C-Team may use GameChanger’s texting app). This will take us some time.
Our Spring 2021 Varsity, JV and C-Team rosters will not be finalized until after the first day of CHSAA authorized Spring (Season D) official practice dates and after fair and transparent player evaluations. The Navy, Gold and C-Team groupings are preliminary groups which allow for us to manage pre-season numbers and facility use rotations to meet CV-19 guidelines and best practices. We also tried to align players with their experience and performance so that practice plans, and drills would be better utilized and of value. We want players to succeed and improve. When the weather cooperates, we will practice outside, and players will socially distance. When forced inside we will reduce numbers and leverage the indoor cages, weight room, turf field and any other cardio options that may be available. This puts a burden on coaches since we must be in more places with players broken up into smaller groups, but we will make this happen.
After I receive input from all the coaches, I will draft a proposed voluntary preseason workout plan. Members of our coaching staff will review it before it is released but we are trying to be fair. Navy and Gold groupings will not play or practice on Sundays since members of their coaching staff are CHSAA certified coaches.
At the present time, Spring CHSAA Season D sports are scheduled to have their 1st official practice on 4.26.2021. First contest is scheduled for 5.3.2021. Season D with playoffs runs until the end of June. This timeline is subject to change since our governing bodies are constantly evaluating CV-19 data and conducting risk assessments. We must be patient and flexible but at the same time properly conditioned and ready to compete.
Player development and improvement is also a goal. Many H.S. programs are playing in an early Spring Season which starts 3.1.2021 and runs until 4.25.2021. They are playing as a “club team(s)” and as such not subject to CHSAA By-laws. We are considering this option since it will enhance our player conditioning and improve skill sets. There are at least 2 local Leagues and numerous tournaments; some travel; and with that associated costs. We are weighing those options. Spring Break (SB) this year also falls before the CHSAA Season D starts and players today expressed interest in practicing and playing during our upcoming SB. Weather and field playability is also another factor under consideration. Everything is voluntary.
Here is what I am leaning towards but need your input as parents. As part of our early Spring season, field a voluntary club team(s). Practice and if we can, not commit to league play but practice and play games or scrimmages and in a few select tournaments leading up to 4.26.2021. I would like to model this after what the MLB does during their spring training – practice, drill, condition then play a few games. Depending on player availability, we may be able to field more than 1 team in advance of 4.26.2021. I would try to keep costs to a minimum but there would be a player assessment for baseballs, umpires, tournaments but I will try to leverage my coaching contacts in the scheduling of games or controlled scrimmages. That way we practice but get some game time exposure, like many of our peer schools but under the banner of a club team and our Booster Club. This would be like what we do during the Summer and Fall each year.
I would like to thank our coaches for their time and introduce our new Pitching Coach Justin DeBerry. Please join me in welcoming him to Cougar Baseball. Justin has an impressive baseball resume which you can find on our website. I know that our pitching staff will learn a lot.
I also want to remind players, parents, and friends of Cougar Baseball of our ongoing field improvement projects all funded by donated funds and volunteer labor. Our dugout “Welcome to Evergreen Cougar Baseball” lettering or signage is completed. We are looking for help in completing out new foul pole installation. Jeff Allan with Loma Alta Electric has worked hard on the foul poles and we are almost there. We are also looking for help on the renovation of our on-field batting cage. JR’s Landscaping has volunteered to finish our warning track. We will be rolling out a new fund-raising initiative where we sell outfield wind curtain with the printed name or logo of local businesses. Please contact a member of our Booster Club if you or a local business you know may be interested in helping our program.
John F. Lipka
Evergreen H.S. (EHS) Cougar Baseball