Strongsville Baseball Hits Homerun in Classroom

 Strongsville High School Report

Science cannot prove that good baseball players are great students.  But try telling that to the Strongsville Mustang Baseball Program who recently turned in a 3.35 program-wide GPA for the first semester of the 2012-2013 school year.

Head Coach Josh Sorge, who enters his tenth season with the Mustangs, is very proud of what his players have accomplished in the classroom.  “We have a lot of intelligent kids, a lot of guys who aren’t just in school, they’re into school.  There’s a great deal to be said about guys who overachieve in the classroom,” said Sorge.

The Mustangs have racked up or shared seven of the last eight conference titles, won five of the last seven district titles, and won a state championship in 2006.  “Our success is because we have smart, hard-working kids,” said Sorge.  “It’s as simple as that.”

“We ask our kids all the time what it takes to be a good student.  They respond with things like, ‘work hard, do your homework, study, listen, prepare for quizzes and tests,’ that sort of thing.  Well, those are the same things that great players do – work hard, study, listen, prepare.’  It really comes down to habits,” explained the coach.

And habits are hard to break.  Every semester since the fall of 2005, the Mustangs baseball players have earned a program average of at least a 3.30 GPA, which includes over 60 players throughout the off-season in the fall and winter as well as the spring.  Over half of those semesters have been over a 3.5.

“We really believe that what a kid does in the classroom is a reflection of what kind of player he is on the field, because it’s simply about effort.  I can’t expect each and every kid to get a 3.5 GPA – but I can expect him to put forth that kind of effort,” added Sorge.

Something that is heard routinely at Strongsville practices and games is “control what you can control.”  Many times, grades are definitely “controllable.”  “It’s about choices,” said pitching coach Jason Frederick.  “If a player doesn’t do well in a class or maybe bombs a test, it’s usually because he made the choice to not to do something about it.  Honestly, we can do without those kinds of kids.”

The Mustang senior class of 2013 averaged a 3.636 for the semester alone.  Of 12 the seniors, all 12 are above a 3.00 and four have earned a 4.00 or higher.

“We have some work to do with our younger guys, though,” admitted Sorge.  “I’d like to see a little more from those freshman kids.  It’s so important to get off on the right foot, find your way academically, and go from there.  Too many athletes waste so much energy making up for a poor freshman year.  In addition, those guys with better grades will have more options for colleges and possibly earn an academic scholarship.”

One precaution that the Strongsville baseball staff takes is to implement a weekly progress report for players who may need a little more motivation or monitoring.  Selected players are given grade sheets that must be signed and completed by the players’ teachers each week.  Missing or late assignments, quiz and test grades, behavior, attentiveness, etc are all evaluated.  These forms must be returned to Coach Sorge by the end of the week.

“I think the progress report is a valuable tool.  My college coach had us do them as freshmen and I know it works.  It’s a two-way street.  I have what they want – playing time and a spot on a roster.  What I want in return is their best effort in the classroom.  It’s easy,” said the head coach.  “If you want to play, and baseball is that important to you, then show me by getting after it in the classroom.  I mean, that’s what they’re here to do anyway, right?”

In addition to weekly progress reports, the baseball staff implements routine study tables during spring practices and utilizes its upperclassmen as tutors.  Because practice times vary throughout the spring, the baseball teams meet in various classrooms monitored by coaches to study before practices.

While science may not back it up, it’s at least true to the baseball coaching staff.  Good grades do equal great players.

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