Call it a very early start to the 2020 practice season for some ball teams at Rutherford High School Monday the first day of official 2020 practice for high school baseball and softball teams across the state. Most teams, with this being a holiday, hitting the field in the early afternoon.
The Rutherford baseball and softball teams put out their own version of midnight madness Sunday night and into Monday morning.
The teams at Rutherford though taking Monday morning literally, first thing in the morning that is. First year coach Jamie Bukowski deciding to host a "midnight madness" kind of start, with some 16 Rutherford baseball players, and about half a dozen softball players showing up very early this morning.
Kudos to coach Bukowski, softball coach Jason Rodgers, and the twenty plus young people who showed up because it was about 45 degrees with a howling wind blowing this morning at Shamplain.
"This idea came about," coach Bukowski told me before getting started just after midnight "a couple of schools I coached at in the past had done activities like this. And for baseball, we usually start a week later than softball. But this year the state moved our schedule forward so it allowed us to start the same day as softball. So I talked to the softball coach and decided to do it to generate some enthusiasm and energy in the school."
As for head softball coach Jason Rodgers, he told me "The kids are really enthusiastic. When it was first presented to me I was like, you know I've got basketball practice in the morning. I'm like but you know, if the kids want to do it, we're gonna do it."
Lecie Watkins is a senior outfielder for the softball team, and though she was just one of a handful of her team that showed up, she was upbeat about the idea!
"Thumbs up!" Lecie told me. "We're all out here, we're all having fun. We're getting to know each other. I mean whole softball team didn't show up. But the ones that did we're getting closer."
Nick Bailey is a senior outfielder out for baseball for his first year of high school ball.
"Nobody in Bay County's really done it yet, so it's really kind of like trendsetting. Like getting everybody to come together and all that. It's just like an easier chance to bond. We'll be here all night long, until about ten in the morning. So it will be a good bonding experience."
Nick adding they brought their video games, and nobody expected to sleep, and he laughingly said whoever fell asleep would "pay for it"
"They're really excited." adds coach Bukowski. "They're a great group of kids. They've bought into our system from day one. That's all I can really ask from them. So the excitement really started in the fall. And then the more that we talked about what we wanted to do in the springtime, the excitement just added more and more."
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