Sun, sand, swimsuits and tough competition

by Kate Paulman

For many Simpson student-athletes, spring break will be more than just partying or lying in the sun. Simpson’s softball, baseball and women’s golf teams will all be spending spring break playing out-of-state games.

Twenty-four softball players and six coaches will travel to Kissimmee, Fla. to play in a Rebels Classic, along with about 300 other teams from across the country.

“[Kissimmee] is definitely a major entertainment area, and we’re staying about a half-mile away from it all, Disney World and everything,” said Head Coach Henry Christowski. “We have about two days off from games where we can practice a little bit and do a little tourist work.”

The softball team leaves March 7 and returns March 16 while playing 12 games in eight days. It won’t be all work, however.

“It could be a really big deal for some of the younger girls,” said Christowski. “When we do have a day off, we usually go to different places and let the girls pick where they want to go. We’ll have one van go to the beach and one to the mall or anywhere else.”

Besides sightseeing, the softball team will stop to see alumnus Wayne Carse, who now lives in Florida.

“We go out there because we’re in the area,” said Christowski. “He caters a meal for us and we get to see his home. It’s just nice to get to see an Iowa boy’s hospitality while we’re down there. It’s really refreshing.”

The baseball team will also travel to Florida for spring break, but it will be playing in a classic in Cocoa. Like the softball team, baseball will play teams it will not see in conference play.

“We’ll play several scholarship schools and a couple of quality Division III schools,” said Head Coach John Sirianni. “It’s going to be good competition. The only way to get better is to play good teams.”

The men will have one day off from games to be tourists.

The women’s golf team will also travel for spring break, but it plans to “just drive until we get someplace warmer. We’ll probably end up in Branson, [Mo.],” said Bob Darrah.

Darrah plans to have the team play a match against Southwest Missouri State University in Springfield, a Division I school. The team has to play at least one match in the spring to be considered for the NCAA tournament even though its season is in the fall.

Darrah said that how the team scores against Southwest Missouri State was more important than if it won or lost.

Sirianni says that he is “cautiously optimistic” about the team’s performance in Florida. “We hope to do well,” Sirianni said. “We hope to do as well as we did last year and win seven or eight out of ten games.”

Though the softball and baseball tournaments will not have a championship, both coaches agree that the competition will help season play.

“It really prepares us for when we get home,” Christowski said. “Last year [in Florida], we played the eventual national champion and runner-up teams and beat both of them while we were there. The high level of competition really helps us find out what we need to work on to get better.”

All traveling players are required to fund-raise to help offset the cost of its trips, but some of the burden is taken off by Simpson funds.

“The only bad thing is the cost,” Christowski said. “Travel teams raise between $200-250 each.”