by Matthew Ondesko, Managing Editor
Photos: Jeffrey T. Barnes/Sports Union
Sometimes it’s the only thing that we have when the times are getting tough. The phrase: “Do you remember when?” seems like a common occurrence.
As the weather goes from spring to summer, in a heartbeat, those who were to play their final seasons of spring sports weren’t able to. They weren’t able to make the lasting memories of a final season together as they were fighting for a championship.
Those bus rides to Delaware Park or Caz Park didn’t happen. While we take things for grant it, the last couple months have made people sit back and take things slow. For the seniors in high school, and college, they didn’t get to have the final game, or senior day. They didn’t get to have that final at bat where they drove in the winning run.
Instead they had a lot of what ifs.
“St. Joe’s means everything to me. I’ve made many friendships that will last me a lifetime. The culture at St. Joe’s is so different and sometimes even unexplainable,” stated St. Joe’s baseball player Andrew Stablewski. “I will be taking with me all the life lessons I’ve learned through my time at St. Joe’s as well. St. Joe’s has prepared me well for all of my future endeavors.”
Stablewski never got to enjoy the final couple of months of his senior year. He didn’t get to enjoy his graduation or his final season on the baseball team. He was like most seniors since March, lost and hoping that there would be a season.
As the days and weeks went on, the chances of having a spring season grew less and less. That still didn’t stop him from getting himself prepared both mentally and physically. As April switch to May there was an outside chance the Monsignor Martin would still have a season.
After all, the league cancelled the state championships in hope of playing a season in mid June. If that was the case Stablewski needed to be ready to go from the drop of a hat.
“Myself, along with a lot of my teammates, were staying positive and believing we would still have a season,” stated Stablewski. “This meant we needed to be in shape. I’ve been throwing the ball around almost everyday with my dad. Also, some of my teammates and I were getting together (using social distancing rules of course) to get swings in so we could stay loose.”
Without a spring season, this summer will take on even more of an importance than before. Getting in a travel season (still an outside chance) would help Stablewski redefine his game before he entires college in the fall.
The last thing Stablewski wants to do is go an entire year of not playing any kind of baseball at all.
“It’s going to be very important that I have a good summer,” stated Stablewski. “I need to stay in great baseball shape and be ready to go as soon as I get to Allegheny College.”
If anyone can keep him the baseball shape he needs to be in it would be his travel coaches with the Western New York Prospects. Coach Jeff Helmbrecht has been around the game for a long time, and has done a wonderful job teaching his players the fundamentals of the game.
He also does a great of preparing his players for not just baseball, but for life after baseball as well. His passion for the game is one of the reasons why so many kids, and parents, tryout for the Prospects.
“Coach Jeff has taught me so much about the game of baseball. He’s taught me things that I just never even thought to think of. He instilled the mindset in us from day one that you never know who’s watching,” stated Stablewski. “There could be someone at any game in which you play. That could be the turning point you need to make it to the next level. He also pushed us during the winter months when we were inside because that’s what was going to make us better in the summer. Putting the work in when nobody else was.”
The work has paid off for Stablewski as he will be taking his talents to Allegheny College in the fall. While choosing a school, Stablewski was looking for something that was going to be the right fit for him.
Stablewski was looking to be able to play high level baseball, while still being able to get the academics that he needs. Stablewski liked the recruiting process as well. He also liked the fact that he was able to get that weight off his shudders early, and just worry about playing the game he loved for fun.
“The process went for the most part very smooth. All my coaches led me in the right direction to help this process go as seamless as possible. One thing I would do differently is I’d reach out to some coaches sooner, as I feel I waited awhile to start the process,” stated Stablewski. “Making my commitment to play baseball was really nice to finally get the weight off my back of making a decision of where I was going to go. In the end I was confident that Allegheny was the perfect fit for me and knew I was making the right choice.”
In college Stablewski will have to get used to using a metal bat all the time. In the Monsignor Martin all the teams use wooden bats. They are the only league in Western New York that uses wood for all their games.
Using wood took a little bit getting used to for Stablewski. In the beginning he didn’t like that fact that he had to use wood while other teams were using metal. Now, he loves swinging the wood.
“I would always question why we used wood bats and did not like it until I realized just how much it actually benefits us. When I went from the spring swinging a wood bat to the summer swinging a metal bat, it felt like I was cheating,” stated Stablewski. “It definitely helps and I don’t see it as a disadvantage at all, I see it as an advantage. Also the best thing is when we play schools who are not in the Monsignor Martin and beat them using wood while they are using metal. It shows how much more we want it than others.”