Ithaca College offers students the chance to join roughly 25 different club sports each year. From more well-known sports like golf and field hockey to novel-inspired games like Quidditch, the opportunities for involvement are expansive. And yet, a club baseball team had never been available to students — until now.
Senior Jacob Marmor, vice president and assistant coach of the newly founded club baseball team, said prospective students wanting to play the game either had to commit to playing a varsity sport or they had to give it up altogether.
“We felt that there was this opportunity to create something really special with club baseball,” Marmor said. “Everybody loves baseball, and it’s unfortunate that the kids who love baseball have to go to polar opposites. Club is a really good middle ground. We can have fun, we can compete — hopefully at a high level — but at the same time, it’s just really rewarding to know that we’re giving that opportunity to a lot of students who love baseball to just come out and enjoy the sport.”
Marmor and seniors Brian Belvin and Joseph D’Alessandro began the process of creating the club last fall and were officially approved in May 2015 for the 2015–16 academic year.
All club sports affiliated with the college are voluntarily organized and run by current students. Each club is responsible for electing its own officers, writing up a constitution, finding practice space, scheduling games and officials, managing its own budget and making travel arrangements.
Belvin is both the president and head coach of the team. He and Marmor are responsible for the majority of the team’s aforementioned duties. Because the club is new to campus, it is still on probation, and therefore is awarded no funding by the college itself. All funds must be raised or donated by the players.
The team also competes with all other club and varsity sports for practice space on campus, which Marmor admits has been a struggle. Most practices are held in the Athletics and Events Center or on Emerson Field, neither of which Marmor considers ideal. Marmor said he hopes that in the future, the team will be able to utilize Freeman Field or another practice field as a location for practice.
During practices, Belvin and Marmor coach the players rather than play for the team. The two have coached Little League in Ithaca for the past two years, so they are both experienced in holding coaching positions.
While the two of them run practices and manage the team off the field, D’Alessandro said he assumes the role of team captain, leaving him in charge of everything on the field.
Marmor said the give and take he uses with his peers has been helpful in kickstarting the club.
“It’s basically the three of us,” Marmor said. “Joey’s really helpful in terms of making decisions because he sees [the team] a lot more than we do and on kind of a different level than we do. He’s actually playing a part in the drills, which is good because we end up with that dynamic. We’re looking from the outside, and he’s looking from the inside.”
D’Alessandro said club baseball has proven to be a wanted addition to the college’s list of available club sports, having between 40 and 50 students respond to fliers and sign up at the organization fair that are now playing for the team currently.
“The point of starting the team was just so that everyone can keep playing,” D’Alessandro said. “Baseball’s just so much fun, so you might as well. That’s why we don’t want to cut people, because it’s still getting on the field and playing, even if it’s just practice. You still have your glove, you’re still having a catch, stuff like that.”
Most games are played on weekends, and practices are held from 6–8 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays.
The players hope to be top competitors this season, although they admit they’re not entirely sure what kind of competition they’re up against. Since the team is new to the league, they have yet to see any other schools play ball.
That being said, both the coaches and the captain said they have confidence in their team’s abilities. D’Alessandro said many of the athletes played in either high school or college, so their skill levels vary. D’Alessandro, who played on the college’s JV baseball team for two years before quitting, said the time commitment was too much.
The club baseball team will play its first series of games Sept. 26–27 against Alfred University. While the official season has already started, the team is still adding players to its roster, and Belvin said anyone who loves the game is welcome to join.
“When you realize you’re not going to be able to play baseball forever, you might as well really enjoy the time that you have left with it,” Belvin said.