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By Barbara Black
The Concordia baseball team has only a few weeks to prove themselves, so the players really throw themselves into the game.
Clinical psychologist Howie Schwartz has coached the team since 1995, and retains every bit of his enthusiasm.
When interviewed, he was looking forward to the arrival of two student athletes who were former professional minor league baseball players. Both are pitchers: Julien Tucker with the Montreal Expos, and Danny Prata with the San Fransisco Giants. They hadn’t played yet because they were still committed to coaching their summer junior elite team, which was in the finals.
Despite the short playing season, the Concordia baseball team generates wide interest among amateur players around town. Schwartz says 35 hopefuls came out for his thirteenth training camp in addition to the returning players, who are loyal.
These players are active year-round. “Once the season ends in late October, the students are given much-needed time off to catch up on their studies,” Schwartz told the Journal.
They resume a winter training program, in January, training Saturday afternoons at the Concordia Gym under the watchful eyes of Schwartz and his staff, Ted Vavas, Nat Thomas, Edwin Archer and Fabien Dunston. Virtually all the student athletes play summer baseball for their home teams, games followed closely by the coaching staff.
“Due to the tremendous support given by our Athletics Director, Katie Sheahan, and the entire department, for that matter, the program is starting to get recognized on campus,” Schwartz said. “We are still the best-kept secret in town, though, and I sure wish we could get a fan base going.”
In Schwartz’s clinical practice, about 20 per cent of his time is devoted to working with athletes, from junior age all the way up to the pro ranks, but nothing beats the time he spends coaching his beloved Stingers.
“I get more of a charge watching my boys making quality plays in the field and getting great contact at the plate than I do working with the professional baseball players. These guys are my family. It's a no-brainer who I care more about.”
They have so far had a mixed season of five wins and six losses. There’s a game Sept. 27 at John Abbott College’s home field, Springate Park, in Pierrefonds, at 7:30 p.m. They play Ottawa on Sept. 28 at home, Trudeau Park on Mackle Road in Côte St. Luc. There’s a Sept. 29 doubleheader against John Abbott beginning at noon, and lastly on Monday, Oct. 1, a game against their archrivals, McGill.
You can get more information about the team on the Recreation and Athletics website, at athletics.concordia.ca/campus