The Concordia Stingers baseball club is in action for less than two months a year, including the playoffs. In fact this past year the regular season took place over a total of 21 days, and a deep playoff run saw them play nearly as much post-season ball as they did in the regular season. For such an intense league not only do many people put in a great deal of effort during the peak months of September and October, but the off-season preparation is just as important.
The club has held winter training sessions consistently on Saturdays from November until April, throughout the past four years.
“We’ve had [winter training] since 2009, and I’ve seen a difference in the players the following year,” said manager Howie Schwartz. “We get a chance to do things with the players that they don’t get a chance to do in their summer leagues.”
The winter training session has major benefits for the younger players on the team whom the coaches don’t know as well.
“It not only helps us develop our current players but also [gives us] a chance to see new guys coming into the program,” said assistant coach Ron Snell. “It also gives us the chance to see our rookies who didn’t get a lot of playing time during the year to show us what they have to offer.”
The players seem to be on the same page as the management, having nothing but good things to say about the training that they’re offered.
“The extra training is great and you get to stay in shape,” said Stingers veteran Andrew St-Denis. “Whenever the field finally thaws up, we’ll be ready to play.”
“For me it’s more about fine-tuning certain aspects of my game,” said catcher Jean-Christophe Paquin. “It’s more to help the guys get better.”
While the Stingers prepare for next season and extend their passion of the game of baseball to the winter months, players and coaches alike are eager to see professional baseball back in Montreal at the end of March. The Toronto Blue Jays and the New York Mets will square off in an exhibition series at the Olympic Stadium on March 28 and 29.
“It’s going to be great to have baseball back in Montreal, I’m sure [the Olympic Stadium] is gonna be rockin’,” said assistant coach Eddie Archer. “It can’t hurt to show that baseball is something important in Montreal.”
“I’m going to both games, so I’m really looking forward to it,” said St-Denis. “Hopefully it’ll give Montreal more exposure and hopefully get a major league team here.”
The Stingers baseball club’s love for the game is evident through their commitment to their sport at all times of the year. For many, baseball is just a summer pastime. But for the Stingers, it’s a passion that hasn’t gone unnoticed.