It is not often that young athletes get to take advantage of training opportunities with those working in the professional sports world, but a group of Marco Island Academy baseball hopefuls recently received some pointers from Jeff Mathers, a strength and conditioning coach with Major League Baseball’s Detroit Tigers.
The big leaguer’s family lives on Marco Island, and he has been enjoying the off-season here. MIA Assistant Baseball Coach and local homebuilder Andy Delgado met Mathers, and asked him if he could come and give those interested in playing baseball for MIA some advice on proper strength and conditioning training.
“A lot of high school athletes don’t know how to work out the correct way,” explained Mathers, while conducting the work-out at Marco Fitness Club on East Elkcam Circle. “These work-outs are a good foundation for the guys and good preparation if any of them want to play college ball or have aspirations toplay professionally.”
Mathers, who played baseball for Manhattan College before being hired by the Tigers, focuses the workouts for young players on form and function with an emphasis on building the core of the body, strengthening arms and shoulders and working on each potential player’s balance.
Pitcher Marcus Seidman attended the work-out, and was pleased with the instruction he was receiving. “I think it is really good for us,” he said between sets. “The stronger we are the better, and it also helps us be more disciplined with our training.”
MIA Head Coach Chris Liebhart was on hand to watch the work-out, and was impressed by what he saw. Liebhart played baseball in high school and in college at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa. He was MIA’s assistant baseball coach last year, and currently, he teaches calculus, pre-calculus and statistics at Marco’s charter high school.
“The exercises are area specific to the kids,” he observed. “They are moreabout increasing long, lean muscle than about bulking up.” He added that the work-out is part of a voluntary pre-season opportunity for potential MIA baseball players who want to get in shape and sharpen their skills prior to the beginning of the season in February.
To be sure, Liebhart is looking forward to the upcoming season and building on last year’s 11-11 record. “It looks like we will have about 20-25 kids tryout, which means we may possibly have enough for a junior variety team this year,” he said.
While there will be no seniors on this year’s squad, Liebhart is confident the returning juniors will be able to lead the team. Among those he already has pegged as potential captains for the 2014-2015 season are catcher Andrew Delgado, Brian Flynn and Seidman.
“We will have everyone back this season,” noted Liebhart. “We’re ready, and I am excited. We will build on last year, and have a good run of things.”