Though spring season athletics don’t get underway for another five months, Stevenson’s men’s lacrosse, women’s lacrosse, softball and baseball teams are well into their ‘fall ball’ practices, as they prepare for their respective 2017 season.
According to the NCAA Division III manual, fall ball allows spring athletics to hold a maximum of 16 practices in a span of five weeks during the off-season without any penalty.
“It’s a great opportunity to show coach [Paul Cantabene] the adjustments we made during summer break when we got back to school,” said junior lacrosse player Austin Howard. “It’s like the pre-season to our pre-season because we’re getting reminded of everything we learned during the 2016 season.”
Howard, who had a season-ending broken hand injury in 2016, is one of many athletes who wants to take advantage of the practices this fall. The time provides opportunities for players to showcase their talent before the regular season begins.
Some of those players who want to demonstrate their talent and take advantage of opportunities are the incoming freshmen, whom coaches have yet to watch in depth. Coaches are able to evaluate the incoming talent as the underclassmen settle into practice routines, as opposed to being thrown into action right away.
“Fall ball is a way for coaches to organize the team, monitor academics, help build team unity and also get a head start to what the athletes need to work on during the winter before the spring,” said athletic director Brett Adams. “It keeps the athletes fit and focused on what’s coming up.”
Fall ball also gives coaches an opportunity not only to evaluate their players, but also to evaluate themselves. Like the athletes, the coaches also come back from summer break, and the off-season practices provide them to hone their coaching styles.
“After a long summer break, it’s just good to be back with the team,” said junior baseball player Steve Shanley. “These practices are great because this past spring is still fresh on our minds, so we just pick up where we left off and continue to get better.”
The NCAA Division III manual also states that a team is allowed to hold one competition; many of the athletes refer this to the team’s ‘fall game.’ Stevenson takes advantage of this event to make it a charitable event for the men’s lacrosse team, for instance.
For the sixth straight year, Stevenson will host the Meghan Puls Lacrosse Classic on Oct. 18 at 8 a.m. to help raise funds for the Meghan Puls Foundation. The Mustangs’ fall games at the Classic will include contests against Division II Adelphi University and Division III Ursinus College.
The women’s lacrosse team will play their games at Gettysburg College, while the softball team already competed in a game at Catonsville Community College, and baseball will hold an inter-squad match-up.