Martinez: The Fort Vancouver baseball team is creating a stir by midnight practice

Adopting a high school baseball program in the midst of a pandemic is hard enough.

But doing so, trying to build a program at Fort Vancouver High School, poses a particular challenge.

That’s why coach Brian Hansen knew not to waste time.

So when the clock struck midnight to begin Feb. 28 – the first day of spring training practice in Washington – Hansen brought his Trappers to the Fort Gym for a midnight workout.

“Basically, I thought,‘ How do you get excited about what no one admires? ’” Hansen said.

The answer was to do something completely different.

Midnight Exercises is a concept born of university basketball. But the idea was adopted for high school students, usually for fall sports such as football or volleyball, when training begins in August before the start of the school year.

But doing so in late February with the start of the school day in just a few hours is not something many coaches are willing to do.

“I am a teacher; I understand, ”Hansen said. “Children have to get up in the morning at school. I need to get up for school in the morning. And I know a lot of kids can still sleep late at school evenings playing video games or anything, but they don’t sleep because of me. It’s different. “

This made Hansen think about his initial plans to hold the northern practice, even last Thursday.

“I was thinking of undoing that,” he said. “But then the parents did not allow it. We had a parents’ meeting last week, and they all supported the idea. “

As it turned out, so were his players. About 18 players showed up around 11:30 pm on Sunday night, although training could not officially begin until 12:01 p.m.

All players were wearing T-shirts with the inscription “Northern Madness 2022”, which the team came up with for this event.

“It’s exciting,” said senior fort Dylan Brooks-Mink. “It’s like cheerfulness for a baseball team.”

If the goal was to create a stir, then it seems to have worked. Hansen said he already has 22 players who signed up for the game this spring, seven more want to play.

“And I think most kids who are interested are interested in this event,” Hansen said.

Thirteen players on the list are freshmen, and all but three are first-time baseball players. Hansen had to rely on his more experienced player to help his new teammates.

“It’s not easy to help guys who haven’t played before,” said senior Esteban Johnson. “But it’s also fun. I think helping them helps me. ”

Hansen hopes to eventually nominate 25 players for the program this spring, allowing Trapper to field the university’s junior team for the first time in years.

Hansen, a former Skyview assistant, took over the Fort program in the fall of 2020, and he held the Catchers through a shortened season last spring.

“We played a game last spring with the guys in different forms,” Hansen said. “The previous coach handed out the uniform, and then before the season was supposed to start (in 2020), then everything stopped because of COVID. We have never seen any of these uniforms since. ”

Last year, Fort received a $ 5,000 grant from the Seattle Mariners, which allowed Hansen to purchase a new uniform for the Trappers, as well as provide each player with gloves and baseball pants for training.

The trappers didn’t need a lot of equipment for their first workout on Monday morning. Hansen led the team through a 45-minute shadow or ghost ball workout in which all exercises are performed with an imaginary baseball.

And while baseball wasn’t real, the excitement was.

“It’s been three years since we had a regular baseball season,” Brooks-Mink said. “And it was a great way to re-ignite the game of baseball. … Yes, we will probably be tired in the morning, but it is worth it to hold an event that we will remember for a lifetime.

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