Baseball and Crew Resume Spring Trips

Andover’s Baseball and Crew programs will begin their season early with team practices and games during this March’s spring vacation. These are the athletic trips to occur since spring of 2009, when they were suspended due to the economic downturn. Twenty Andover baseball players, including eight returning varsity players, will travel to Cocoa, Florida to play ten games in the Cocoa Expo during the last week of spring vacation. Kevin Graber, Head Varsity Baseball Coach, said, “Within the past decade, the Andover baseball teams with the most successful record have all played this preseason tournament, so the idea of taking the trip was never far from my mind.” “When the administration came to me and gave me the green light, I called the travel agent that same night,” he added. Many members of the crew team will stay in a hotel during the last week of spring vacation in order to row on the Merrimack River. “[The practices are] open to everyone, but generally, the girls haven’t come in the past, and I’m not sure if they will come this year,” said Peter Washburn, Head Boys Crew Coach. Washburn said the preseason practices will give the crew team the opportunity to row as a group without the distraction of classes. “The students can come in and focus on rowing and bond in that sort of ‘camp’ atmosphere,” he added. Chris Cameron ’11, Varsity Baseball Captain, said that the trip to Florida will prepare the team for a run at the Central New England Prep School Baseball League championship. “It will also help us come together as a team. It’s a huge advantage to play before the start of our regular season,” he added. Graber said that though Andover has excellent indoor facilities, “any time you can get guys out on the field is really important.” Michael Kuta, Athletic Director, said, “Unlike some of the other spring trips, the athletic trips weren’t endowed, and we needed to preserve [need-blind funding]. But this year is our startup year. We are gradually easing back into these opportunities, and by next year we will hopefully have everything moving back towards the way it was before [the economic downturn.]” Washburn said that the cost for food and board during the trip is 125 dollars, however day students may stay in their homes and attend practice free of charge. “If we have kids who need financial aid, we, [the crew program] covers it ourselves. There are a lot of parents who’ve said they will pay for two [rowers]. There isn’t really any expenditure by the school,” he added. “In my opinion, the benefit of these trips is that they are more for injury prevention than performance enhancement. There will be performance enhancement of course, as well as valuable team building and skill development, but the major advantage is that it physically prepares athletes for the rigors of the season,” said Kuta. “It’s great that we’re going on this trip again. With the exception of [one player] who went with his old school, none of [the players going on the trip] have been to the Cocoa Expo,” said Cameron.