Photo courtesy of Matt McGee on Flickr.
BY HALEY HODGES
An outstanding promise hovers over many students at Drake University that anyone can start any club they want. There’s scheduling, planning, paperwork and recruiting involved but the promise held true for Josh Cook when he started the baseball club this year.
Drake boasts an NCAA Division-I level softball team, but hasn’t had an outlet for baseball fans for years.
Cook hoped to remedy this by successfully putting together a club of interested members.
“People like baseball quite a bit,” Cook said. “I lived with a bunch of kids on first floor in Stalnaker last year who were huge baseball fans (wh0) also played it and wanted to play more. I had more and more people asking me about it.”
From there, Cook said he realized a club to play baseball either for fun or competitively could have a niche at Drake and went through the proposal process, working with Student Senate and a representative from Drake Athletics.
“Before I even started it, I had like 20 guys worth of interest, which is more than you need for a baseball game anyway,” Cook said and noted that the number has increased since then to about 35.
Given the weather and the club’s lack of access to a baseball field, Cook has yet to get formal practices underway.
“A normal practice is probably about 10 guys (who) show up, we start by stretching our arms out a little bit and playing some catch and then there’s batting cages we can use in the field house,” said Payton Diamond, a friend of Cook’s who has been supportive of the baseball club from the beginning.
Cook said he’s been working on organizing and planning the logistics of the club but it’s taking time to coordinate.
“The intramural fields are an option for us but what we’re trying to do is find a high school in the area that will let us practice right before they get out of school … or let us play there on off days if we keep up the field,” Cook said.
For equipment, Cook said the group has been supplying their old helmets, balls, gloves and bats and their next step will be making up jerseys and hats, something Cook hopes to turn into a fundraising event where other students can buy their designs as well and the proceeds can go to a league fee for the club.
While the baseball club is designed as a club and not an official sports team, Cook hopes for it to have two purposes in playing baseball.
For all members, he hopes to be able to have enough people to form teams to scrimmage against each other and also create “a competitive roster” of interested members to compete in club leagues and play against similar organizations from other colleges.
Cook said he was already contacted by University of Iowa to compete against each other but will need time to organize and find a field to play on.
“We’re still very much in our infancy right now,” Cook said. “My plan is, even if we don’t get into a club tournament this summer or spring, to have a competitive roster established for fall and maybe play some fall ball.”
Most members of the baseball club have a history of playing baseball but hardly have an opportunity to anymore.
“I started playing T-ball at about five and I’ve played ever since then,” Diamond said. “I had a couple offers to go play at small D3 schools but decided to give up being an athlete to come have a better education at a school like Drake.”
There is still a lot of work to be done with the club, but Cook said he wanted to start the club simply because Drake didn’t have one and this will give interested students a chance to pursue a shared interest in baseball.
“I think it gives us the opportunity to go out and play a sport that we really love that a lot of people coming to Drake never thought they’d have the opportunity to do,” Diamond said.
The club is open to both men and women. To get involved, the best way would be to email Cook at firstname.lastname@example.org.