Jon Mueller is entering his sixth
season as head coach of the Great Danes. A year ago, Albany posted a
program-best record of 37-14, including 14-7 in the America East Conference.
Mueller, the 2004 America East Coach of the Year, will be checking in each week
of the 2005 season.
Feb. 9, 2005
The Waiting is the Hardest Part
One of my three older brothers used to blast Tom Petty and AC/DC growing up,
and this Petty song stuck with me. I am a baseball player who has found a job as
a college baseball coach up here in Albany, N.Y.
It is beginning to warm up to a balmy 30 degrees today. We have just begun to
pull off the layers of a cold spell where it did not get above 32 for 21
consecutive days. Not ideal baseball weather for some, but in the deep
Northeast, this is the time of the season.
One of the more challenging things for coaches this time of year is indoor
space and gym availability. Some programs have luxurious facilities to help
prepare their guys for the upcoming battles; some programs have none.
Six years ago, I was promoted to head coach, and I decided to practice at 6
a.m. I stole this idea from John Cheney, and it was really the only slot when we
would not be disturbed. Although we have instrumented a more aggressive warm-up
routine this year, we are still able to finish around 8:30. This leaves the
remainder of the day to tend to all of our other responsibilities. This also
solves any conflicts with our other athletic programs.
During the dark rides into work at around 4:15, the mind begins to race about
the upcoming season. You think about how hard the staff recruited, how hard you
pushed your team in the weight room, how difficult it was last year to battle
your conference enemies.
Then all of a sudden you realize you left your mud at home. (Mud is slang for
The car is barking something fierce at this time of the day, and the fluids
in your joints could use some WD-40, but your focus is on the task ahead. How do
we get into the NCAA tournament this year? Will we find a way to beat that team
that has manhandled us in the past? Will we sustain our stranglehold over those
other teams in the conference? Will we fall flat on our backs this year? Will we
have a season that will leave a mark on the record books? We all want that.
At this point, we have been at it pretty good for two weeks. The week in the
near future is when “cabin fever” takes hold of your group. This is when the
team is tired of running bunt defense until perfection. When the baseballs
become hairy and the covers create wings. When the picks and rundowns become a
little bit too aggressive, and guys are starting to jam fingers and hands during
the individual defensive stations.
It is also when the years of BP start trying to break down your mental
ability to work with the hitters. You just want to get on the bus, pop in a
movie and commiserate with the guys on the team. This is college baseball for
the teams in parts of the country dominated by the weather.
The bus rides bring our team closer together, bring our staff closer together
and even allow for the bus driver to become part of the journey.
Three weeks until we leave for Philly. Hope the field is clear of snow.
Groundhog never got blindfolded, so looks like six more weeks of weather…Again
When the snow melts, our journey begins. Boy, “The waiting is the hardest
(photo courtesy of Albany Media Relations Office)