The spring sports season at The Oaks started in early March and extended through mid-May, with a common theme between our 2 sports offerings being growth. Even though we still couldn’t extend the opportunity to 5th grade students to participate due to COVID-19 restrictions, over half of all middle school students participated in either Baseball or Track & Field this spring.
In just its second year as a sport at The Oaks, our Boys Baseball program grew from one team of 19 players last year to four teams of 52 players this year. With such a large turnout, we were able to offer our first set of in-house teams to complement the Varsity program. In tryouts, coaches assessed the players’ abilities and placed them on the appropriate team that would give them the best opportunity to grow and develop their skills and knowledge of the game.
Students in 6th to 8th grades were placed on one of three in-house teams, evenly divided to a dozen boys per team. Under the leadership of coaches Harvey, Maney, and Wise, these players were able to hone their knowledge and application of the sport through healthy competition, discipline, and dedication. These teams, like most other in-house sports, faced other teams in the IISL conference when possible and appropriate for their skill level, as well as participated in many intra-Oaks games.
There were even opportunities, due to a few day-long field trips, for In-House teams to combine to be a grade-level team, giving players the opportunity to gain experience playing with different teammates and under different coaches. The In-House teams ended their season with a fun ‘mini-tournament’ on a perfect Friday evening that had players begging for one more inning after the scheduled umpires called the games, perfectly reflecting the purpose of the season for these boys: growing in skill and passion for the sport.
The Varsity team roster included 16 players that also spanned all of the middle school grades, and even had some athletes new to the sport. Under the leadership of Coaches Crawshaw and Rhodes, the team had a season mantra, “Throw the ball, catch the ball.”, that embodied their season-long focus on fundamentals, fun, and effort.
From the start of the season that included a tough loss to eventual #2 seed Park Tudor, to the end and a semi-final game in the conference tournament, the players grew noticeably in understanding of the game and skill level. That first game and loss was an important learning experience for the team, with Coach Crawshaw reflecting that the lessons learned there were seen throughout the rest of the season’s games.
For the IISL tournament, the varsity team was seeded 4th out of 6 teams. After confidently passing the first round of the tournament against Trader’s Point, they faced #1 seed Kingsway in the semi-final round. After rallying from behind in the 5th inning to tie the game, the team ultimately ended their season with a loss of 8 to 6.
Our Track & Field Team, while normally large due to the variety of events in the sport and its co-ed nature, had an incredible turnout of just under 90 students. Coaches Raway, Shelburne, and Abel worked with the students throughout the season to experiment and find the events that gave them the greatest enjoyment and also challenged them appropriately. With over 20 track and field events to participate in and only one level of competition in the IISL conference, there was no division of athletes into In-house, JV, or Varsity teams.
However, due to the size of our team and IISL meet restrictions, athletes did not always get to compete in all of their chosen events or at every meet. Thankfully we were able to have our own in-house extravaganza where we hosted an intra-Oaks meet that allowed every member to participate against their friends and in front of their families and the community.
Coaches emphasized both the physical and mental aspects of preparation during practice, with a special attention placed on making sure student athletes were able to tap into the habit of perseverance to overcome personal hurdles and push themselves to get stronger every day. As the season progressed, students were even asking for extended practices and workouts to do at home – showing a high level of dedication and commitment to improvement. Even with meet limitations in place, about half of the team was able to find an event to participate in for the IISL conference meet to close out the season where our girls’ team placed 2nd and our boys’ 4th out of the 10 teams who competed.
After the end of a successful spring sports season, and an entire year filled with Oaks Plus activities again, students and coaches have earned a well-deserved summer break. Of course, we hope to see many continuing and future athletes during our summer athletic camps and can’t wait to start the fall sports season with Soccer and Volleyball tryouts starting at the end of July!
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