Coach Mark Smartt
Those two words, Opening Day, mean many things to different people in the world of athletics and in particular to the game of baseball. For many, Opening Day relates to the Major Leagues which always has a great amount of pomp and circumstance on each team's opening game of the season. In fact, several years ago MLB began a stand-alone game on Opening night the Sunday before the season which kicks off the baseball season. Three years ago, the NCAA announced baseball would have a common start date, which has quickly grabbed momentum into a exciting national Opening Day for the Division I college baseball season.
For me as a coach and for many coaches, Opening Day brings about a great deal of excitement along with many other thoughts. First and foremost, our program has more of a traditional setting for Opening Day where both teams are announced and align themselves on the baselines for the National Anthem. Then we have someone "open the season" with a traditional first pitch. Our tradition here at Troy is to have a local baseball team from the area that accomplished something special the year before throw out our first pitch. This year will be no different as one of our local teams will be on hand to help us start the season.
Leading up to the first game of any season is a hectic time for coaches. The facility must be game ready with all things properly working. That takes a tremendous effort from many people, both from the athletic department and the physical plant department. This year, fans will be welcomed with fresh paint in many areas of the stadium, new advertisement signs on the scoreboard and right field wall, and a brand new tailgate terrace area to enjoy the games in left field. We hope all our fans appreciate the facility and enjoy the improvements during the season.
And yes, all coaches have to prepare their team for the beginning of the season. All the practices, scrimmage games and weight room work that began in late August will be put to the test this weekend. A college baseball team has the longest period of preparation from the beginning of the school year to the first pitch of any sport and there's no question that the players are ready to play. What most coaches will say at this point is we need to play another team to learn more about our own team. We are no different at this stage of the year, our team needs to be challenged so that we can learn more about the areas we need to focus on and improve. Everyone involved with our program can't wait to get it started and it will be here Friday!
Opening Day is a great time of year and we expect great weather, great crowds and some exciting baseball at Riddle-Pace Field this weekend. I hope you will make plans to join the other Trojan fans and come see the 2011 Trojans open the season this weekend.