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.







March 31, 2005

It's a Great Day to be Alive


"It's a great day to be alive, the sun's still shining when I close my eyes." (Travis Tritt).  The song came blaring out from the radio on the way to UNC Greensboro and it sent chills down my spine.


The spring trip began with a tough 4-2 loss to a well-coached Saint Joseph's team.  Their kid pitched well, and the thing I liked the most was their team never sat.  They stood and supported their teammates the entire game.  Spirit is something that can be taught and is a powerful tool for teams.  We left the field feeling like we could have won the game, but we had a doubleheader the next day against a good Temple team.  We cruised through the game until Jason Connor delivered a two-out, three-run walk-off homer that ended a hard day's work for our club.  It felt like getting kicked in the stomach by an angry mule.  Twenty minutes later we gathered ourselves and split 8-7 in the nightcap.  It was interesting how close we came to sweeping Temple.  When I reflected further, it became just as evident that we were also one out away from BEING swept.  I decided to count my blessings and move on.


We encountered some weather the next day, and Joe Godri, the head coach at Villanova, felt we should move forward to search for some sun.  The assistant at Temple, as well as Godri, mentioned the column, and I felt a sense of closeness with those guys.  The reality is, we are in this thing together and the more people that just enjoy the job for what it is, the better. 


The conferences which are overlooked by some of the power conferences have closed some of the gap over the past 5-10 years, and the coaching in those conferences can always be competitive.


We set out for North Carolina and some warmer weather.  Monday we had a great team day.  We went to a local weight room and worked out, had a team practice at UNCG, and did some heavy damage to The Golden Corral!!  Amazing what a great meal can do for the troops.  Later that night we had a powerful team meeting.  Before, I had to do much individual assessment and reflection to decide how I would attack the meeting.  After, Mark told me it was the best meeting we had ever had.  During the meeting I pulled up our only walk-on left and asked who thought he was a good teammate.  The whole team rose.  I then said "We need 30 here if we want to get this thing right."


This was the turning point of our trip.


The next day we dodged the rain versus a good UNCG team and went home down 2-0 after five innings.  Wednesday we finished the game (lost 4-1), and traveled west towards Appalachian State.  At this point of the trip, you begin to miss the people who are most dear to you.  Mark was telling me about Ryann (his wife), and how she was down in Florida with her family.  Lyn was thinking about her family back home and she was telling us stories about her fiancĂ©e Tony.  Garret was explaining to me the importance of his upcoming fantasy draft in baseball.  I was thinking about how tired my wife must be chasing around my 18-month-old daughter Marley. 


The South, the country music, and the kindness in the tone with which people in the South carry is something which is priceless. "Yes Sir...No Sir...Thank You Sir." It makes you feel like respect is still alive and very important somewhere.


We entered Boone, N.C. after climbing huge mountains and looked forward to the end of our trip.  We were fortunate to get a win in the first game, and worked hard for a three-game sweep to close out the trip.  We came home healthy, and with a greater understanding of who we are as a team.  We are less than two weeks away from our conference opener, and we are deep into the scouting of that team.  I wanted to thank our bus driver, Mark, for getting us around safe. 


Most importantly, my family, and staff, and team for making me feel like "It's a great day to be alive."  Listen to the song and be thankful. 




Previous Entries

Beginning to See the Grass (3/17/05)

Opening Day is Here (3/8/05)

For Those About to Rock, We Salute You (2/18/05)

The Waiting is the Hardest Part (2/9/05)


(photo courtesy of Albany Media Relations Office)