‘Better people, better students, better players’

Savannah Doane, Reporter

As the SHS boys varsity baseball team welcomes the 2018 season, they also welcome a few changes that have been made to the program.

One of the biggest changes the team faced was the naming of Mike Klopfenstein, as the new head varsity coach for this season.

“It’s cool having someone who has always been here, as well as someone who knows what they are doing as a coach,” junior pitcher Avery Short said.

Although being a part of the team in previous years, Klopfenstein being named the new head coach has led the players to having to adjust to the new expectations that he had brought to the program altogether.

“My philosophy on scholastic sports is that if all we’re trying to do is win games, we are approaching it the wrong way,” Klopfenstein said. “I think that school sports can and should be a vehicle to not just to learn the sport, to compete and to play well, but to motivate kids to become better people, and to push them in the classroom to motivate them to become better students.”

Klopfenstein says that the team adopted the motto  “better people, better students, better players” long before the season started to help them understand that the coaches do not just see the season as a time to win baseball games. They want the boys to become better people and better students. 

In order to help enforce the importance of good grades, Klopfenstein and the other coaches came up with a way to make maintaining a good GPA interesting for the boys by creating what they call, academic teams.

The way the academic teams work is that at the start of the season, the four team-elected captains, which include Short, fellow junior Jack Vanover, and seniors Kris Massey and Scott Rippy, each drafted players onto their academic teams, and a coach was assigned to each team to monitor grades and can guide the kids who are having trouble. The main focus of each team was to have the highest combined GPA out of the four competing teams for the third quarter.

“The guys just tried to compile a team that could achieve the highest combined GPA,” Klopfenstein said. “We (the coaches) for the most part were actually really happy with the way that worked because guys were pushing each other, offering to help each other, and it was just a great way to sort of push kids in the classroom.”

The fourth quarter however, is a little bit different.

According to Klopfenstein, the fourth quarter  is all about raising your grades rather than just having the best grades. The teams were re-drafted at the start of the quarter and the team adopted a point system.

For every increment that a student’s grade goes up or down, the player can earn or lose points. If the player’s grade goes up, they recieve three points, if their grade decreases, they lose two points.  If the player maintains the same grade then they get one point. In the end, the winning team is decided by what team has obtained the most points by the end of the quarter. Short believes that the academic teams  have influenced the boys to work harder in the classroom this year due to the goal awaiting the winning team after the nine weeks is up: free wings from Buffalo Wild Wings.

Klopfenstein believes that with Buffalo Wild Wings being the team’s academic sponsor and feeding the players on the team who are doing their job in the classroom is extremely motivating for the boys on the team to maintain their grades.

Aside from the point system and the academic teams, Klopfenstein has illuminated the importance of good grades to the players on the team ever since their very first team meeting in the fall.

“Before we even started practicing on the first day, we (the coaches) talked to the kids about the fact that if you are not a student first and an athlete second, then you are absolutely approaching it the wrong way. You are thinking the wrong way,” Klopfenstein said.