For most students, spring break was spent getting some much-needed rest going into the spring term. For others, a week of the break was spent preparing in Florida for the upcoming campaigns.
“It’s important to start off the season on a positive note and feel like you’re ready to compete right away,” said boys varsity tennis coach William Speer. The teams grinded through two practices a day and, in some cases, competitive scrimmages.
The boys lacrosse team had the biggest turnout of any team with 63 boys able to make it for a week of lacrosse at IMG Academy. The boys were able to work with some of the top lacrosse talents in the country: Tom Kelly of Major League Lacrosse’s Denver Outlaws, and Rob Pannell, who was a three-time All American and two-time national player of the year at Princeton.
Girls lacrosse as well as softball traveled down to Orlando to practice at the ESPN Wide World of Sports facility, home to some of the top training sites utilized by professional and amateur athletes alike. Lacrosse hosted the competitive Tabor Academy team and came away with an 11-8 victory. “Preseason gave us an opportunity to stay in rooms with kids we didn’t know as well,” explained lacrosse captain Kathryn Grennon ’17. “This not only brought us together as teammates, but also as friends.”
The boys and girls crew teams traveled together to Orlando to practice at Lake Pickett at the University of Central Florida. The boys had an exhibition race against the Episcopal School of Jacksonville, a team with a strong connection to the Deerfield coach. Coach Spencer Washburn’s father heads the team, and his younger brother rows for the first boat. Needless to say, it was more than just an exhibition for Mr. Washburn.
The baseball team also stayed in the professional-grade facilities at IMG, playing six scrimmages there. After flying back from Bradenton, the team played a jamboree at the New England Baseball Complex in Northborough, Massachusetts. The boys were defeated 11-2 by Cheshire in the first game, but finished the preseason on a strong note, beating Middlesex thanks in no small part to the pitching of Dylan Presnal ’17 and bat of Peter Marchese ’20 in their 13-0 smackdown.
While the main focus of the trips was preparing the teams for their upcoming seasons, they were all able to find some downtime. The boys lacrosse team saw Alex Killorn ’08 play for the NHL Tampa Bay Lightning against the Arizona Coyotes. Both crew teams toured the Kennedy Space Center and had some downtime on the boardwalk of Cocoa Beach.
The baseball team got a surprise call at the Baltimore-Toronto spring training game: Orioles general manager Dan Duquette invited the players to come down to the field during batting practice to get up close to the major league field and the players. The girls lacrosse team and softball team both enjoyed time at the Disney World parks.
“Preseason could arguably be the most important part of our season,” said lacrosse midfielder Jack Wood ’17. “Having a good tone set from the beginning by the senior class is huge during those trips. Coach Davis likes to say, ‘Culture eats strategy for breakfast.’” As the seasons begin to pick up steam, Deerfield teams can rely on the strong foundations established in Florida and the culture this year’s group of upperclassmen has established.