Kevin Cooney is
in his 17th season as head coach at Florida Atlantic University
and 21st overall. Each week, he’ll share some of the highs and lows
of running a college baseball program - one that continues to grow as a national
power. Cooney, who starred as a pitcher before taking Montclair State to a
Division III national title, has guided the Blue Wave to a 226-89 record and four NCAA Regionals the past five years. His 1999 squad won 34 straight games, tying
the NCAA mark set by Texas in 1977.
May 26, 2004
Missing the Fons
Atlantic Sun Tournament…Day 1
10:30 a.m.…We leave for batting practice in two hours. We are scheduled to face
Gardner-Webb in the first game of this year's tournament.
But there will be another opponent for everyone to consider. It is bright and
sunny today in DeLand, with a forecast temperature of 93 staring us in the face
for our 3 p.m. game. I can't remember many cool days in all my years playing in
DeLand, particularly come tournament time. The subject of proper hydration has
been paramount for us lately.
Florida Atlantic will take the field without one of its best players. It's not a
sore arm, pulled hamstring, or broken bone that will keep shortstop Alex Fonseca
off the field today. The culprit is dehydration.
Despite the absence of Alex from our lineup, the Florida Atlantic Baseball
family is grateful just to see Fons at the hotel.
During last Saturday's first game against Mercer, Alex suffered severe cramping.
At one point in the last inning, we held up the game as he tried to work out a
cramp at shortstop. When the game ended, our trainer, Elaine Coetzee, directed
Alex to a shady spot behind our cinder block hothouse dugout. It was about 10
degrees cooler there than on the field or in the dugout. A soft breeze was
blowing and it was probably the coolest place in Macon. We hoped Alex would feel
better and be ready to pinch hit in the next game.
But Alex was getting worse. He vomited and began to experience cramping in his
entire body. Elaine and Robert Murphy, the Mercer trainer, immediately carted
Alex off to the training room. It quickly became apparent that Alex needed to be
During our last-inning rain delay, Alex's parents returned from the hospital and
informed us that Fons would remain in the hospital for a couple of days. The
admitting doctor was amazed at both the extent of his condition and the rapidity
of its onset.
He also said that Alex Fonseca was a lucky young man.
Sometimes the coach/trainer relationship is a difficult one. The coach wants the
player on the field, and the trainer can really feel that pressure. The best
situation is when each of the parties trusts the professional judgment of the
other. But the important thing to consider is that you are dealing with the life
of a young person. I have learned to trust Elaine over the past two years, and
we are both grateful for the presence of Robert Murphy and his prompt attention
to a scary situation.
How did an athlete in such good physical condition get into such desperate
shape? Alex is a superb athlete with a hard body and about 4 percent body fat.
That may have been part of the problem. A little fat is good.
I think the problem started on Wednesday night. It was hot and muggy during our
game in Miami. We played and got home around midnight. At 11 a.m., we were
at our field, and it was real hot. After practice, we boarded our sleeper bus
and drove to Macon for the Mercer series. It is an old bus and the AC isn't the
greatest during the day. There are beds that enable us to spread out and sleep
the trip away, or card tables for game players. Fons chose to sleep.
So, Alex slept Wednesday night, exercised, and slept another eight to ten hours,
then slept through the night at the hotel. That is a lot of time where he didn't
do any drinking of fluids. Friday night's game was played on a hot, muggy field,
where the dugouts are sweatboxes. He had two Gatorades that night, but skipped
breakfast on Saturday.
The lesson learned is that hydration is a gradual process. Our guys have been
drinking water and Gatorade heavily for the last two days. They have seen first
hand the effects of neglecting this part of their physical conditioning. The
sight of their friend vomiting and rigid and pale last weekend is fresh in their
Alex's Dad drove him here yesterday. The skinny, pale kid that stepped out of
the car and into the arms of his happy teammates had lost 16 pounds! But the
smile on his face spoke volumes about his joy to be back. Alex Fonseca knows he
is a lucky young man.
Fons will watch today's game from the air-conditioned press box. Tomorrow he
will have more blood work done to determine his chance to play this week.
We will have a tougher time today without his bat and glove in the lineup, but I
think his teammates will take inspiration from what he went through, and use
that to rise above his absence.
Who'll Stop the Rain? (5/23/04)
The 'Badlands' of Miami (5/19/04)
A Bad Part of a Good Job (5/14/04)
Sweep Home Alabama (5/12/04)
Winless at Winthrop, but Victorious in Friendship (5/3/04)
To Bunt or Not to Bunt - That is the Question (4/27/04)
The Promised Land (4/21/04)
A Little Rusty (4/17/04)
Knock, Knock, Knockin' on Heaven's Door (4/15/04)
OB Gets CG for FAU vs. UCF (4/13/04)
The Present and the Past (4/8/04)
Held Up Without a Gun (4/5/04)
Live by the Sword, Die by the Sword (3/27/04)
Bye Bye Buckeyes...Hello Dolphins (3/26/04)
A Festive Week Ends in a Wreck (3/22/04)
Break No Day at the Beach (3/16/04)
Baseball is Boring? What are They Smoking? (3/9/04)
Hanging with LaRussa was in the Cards (3/6/04)
Winds of Change (3/1/04)
Washington's Birthday (2/23/04)
Dugout Talks and Scouting Reports (2/21/04)
Not a Happy Valentine's Day (2/16/04)
Opening Weekend (2/9/04)
Almost FAMUs (2/2/04)
FAU Living in Land of Hope and Dreams (1/28/04)
(photo courtesy of FAU Media Relations Office)