With the start of the spring season, coaches and captains are looking to improve their teams. Whether the goal is to make it to the playoffs for the 12th consecutive year, as it is for the boys’ varsity baseball team, to repeat the success from the indoor season during the outdoor season, as it is for the girls’ track team, or to make the playoffs for the first time in three years, as it is for the boys’ tennis team, the first step in change and improvement is trying out new
players. The tryout process, however, varies from team to team.
Unlike most coaches of spring season sports, John Carlesi and Matt Hahn, Hitmen’s coach and assistant coach respectively, began conducting their tryouts in September and October. In an e-mail interview, Carlesi wrote these early, no-cut tryouts “give us a good idea of the baseball backgrounds of the [rookies] trying out.” During these tryouts, “we play scrimmage games and go through infield and outfield drills,” Carlesi said. After evaluating the players and conducting various tryouts during the spring season, the coaches make the final cuts.
From there, players can make either the junior varsity (JV) or varsity teams. For the JV team, the “players are expected to know the basics of the game – catch, throw, field, run and hit,” Hahn wrote in an e-mail interview. The potential Hitmen can impress their coaches not only by excelling at their positions but also by hustling because “that’s what coaches like best,” Carlesi said.
For the varsity team, coaches want much more than just the basics. “[We] look for commitment, dedication, and talent,” Carlesi said.
Players cannot try out directly for the varsity team. “We like to have our JV players develop on the JV level, so they can get ready for the varsity level,” Hahn said.
This year, about 50 boys tried out for 23 slots on the junior varsity team. Some outstanding rookies were promoted to the 20-player varsity team. Although “[we] never put an exact number on how many players [to accept], we try not to overload the programs so that every player has a chance to play,” Carlesi said.
Girls’ Outdoor Track
The tryouts for the girls’ outdoor track team are the same as those for the girls’ indoor track team. The captains are in charge and conduct the tryouts along the Hudson River bike path. They time potential teammates for their mile and 200 meter runs.
“We look for [people who can run] below seven minutes in the mile [run] and below 36 seconds in the [200 meters] sprint,” senior and co-captain Eva Sadej said.
However, “we take what grade the person is in into consideration and can adjust the time requirements accordingly,” senior and co-captain Stephanie Ko said. This means that an underclassmen who runs the same times as an upperclassman may have an advantage.
The ability to run and sprint isn’t the only qualification needed to make the team. Girls interested in racewalking who show commitment and potential can also join the racewalking section of the team. This year, 14 out of 25 girls were accepted onto the team as runners while another four were accepted as racewalkers.
Nonetheless, tryouts didn’t end there. “After two weeks, we have cuts and drop the new [members] that didn’t show up enough as well as the old [members] if they decide to disappear,” Sadej said. The returning members of the 45-member track team weren’t required to try out.
Tryouts for the boys’ tennis team began in early March and were held at the Chambers Street Tennis Court. “There’s a first and second cut which usually lasts around three days,” senior and co-captain Royce Hwang said.
The first cut is for potentially new members, while returning members automatically make the first cut. This is because “people who make the first cut have a general idea of how to play the game and demonstrate decent ground strokes and we know that [returning members] can already play,” Hwang said. Fifty to 60 new people tryout for the team, but only 20 make the first cut.
For the second cut, new players and returning members must demonstrate knowledge of more than just the basics. They must show “some expertise in the basic strokes such as forehand, backhand, and serve [which] you can tell by the way they hit the ball, their footwork, and their grip on the racket,” senior and co-captain Sam Alperin said. During the second cut, “[we] usually ask for demonstration of form rather than brute force because everyone can hit the ball hard but not everyone can do that and keep it in the box.”
If players make it past the second cut, they are on the team. This year, the team has 20 players with “around 4 new players and another 16 returning members,” Hwang said.
For some teams, like boys’ tennis, which accepted only four new players, tryouts were more selective. Other teams, however, accepted a majority of hopeful players, like girls’ track where 14 of 25 made the cut. Whether or not the decisions of the coaches and captains regarding who made the cuts are correct remains to be seen. However, at the moment, teams hope that the new players will help them succeed.