Ithaca Bomber Baseball

Oddly, it seems that while Ithaca College and Cornell are separated by but a few miles, they can at times exist in different worlds.

This difference is revealed clearly by a look at the two colleges’ athletics websites, as the Bombers’ site features a bold headline proclaiming, “We’re Back!” and the Big Red’s website features this headline: “Ivy League Updates Intercollegiate Athletics Plans for Spring Competition and Training.”

Unfortunately, that headline is followed by this statement: “Consistent with its commitment to safeguard the health and wellbeing of student-athletes, the greater campus community and general public, the Ivy League Council of Presidents has decided not to hold league competition or host league championships this spring.”

That announcement was made last Thursday by the Ivy League Council of Presidents, and it comes as a real disappointment to many athletes who returned to campus hoping to resume some semblance of normalcy. Athletes will still be allowed to engage in “training opportunities and practices,” and the release also states that “the Council has also put in place a process that may allow for limited, local competition during the spring if public health conditions improve sufficiently to allow greater levels of in-person activity at Ivy League campuses.”

I put in a few phone calls to ask what shape some of these limited, local competitions might look like, but the coaches I contacted politely stated that they have been advised to hold off on interviews until further notice. Fair enough…

I caught up with David Valesente — Ithaca College’s head baseball coach — and he told me that although the players are back on campus, they are “still waiting for the green light.” He also shared that it feels great to have the players and coaches back together, and he said that given there was no fall season, they all have some work to do.

“It presents a real challenge, not having had them here for fall baseball,” Valesenteoffered. “Having that opportunity to work together for a few weeks in the fall semester gives us a good look at the new players, and we did not have that opportunity.”

The Bombers would, in a “normal” year, be preparing for their spring trip to California, but with travel presenting one of the biggest obstacles to maintaining safety protocols, the team will be happy to board a bus and play wherever they can. “We’re not sure how big our travel radius will be,” Valesente said. “It will depend on whether we go to different states, as they might have different restrictions.”

The spring trip also gets players outside and offers an opportunity to better gear up for a long season, and while that perk is also a no-go this year, Valesente expresses how grateful he is that the team has an indoor facility as nice as the Glazer Arena, saying, “We’re at the mercy of the weather, but in the meantime, it really is a luxury to have such a great facility.”

He added, “It does feel really good to be back. The players say that being with their teammates is the highlight of their day. While we’re still waiting for an official schedule — it has to go through the Liberty League and the individual schools — it feels great to be back, to be settling into a routine, to be staying active internally.” I asked if he has seen any players transfer or take a leave of absence, and he said, “One player is in Canada, so I’m not even sure if he can get across the border, and another is enrolled at IMG in Florida, but we have almost everyone here.”

So, stay tuned for scheduling updates (best found at www.ithaca.edu) and if and when the weather breaks, we might be watching some baseball. In Valesente’s words, “We’d like to be playing a full schedule, of course, but hey, if we’re playing it’s a win.”

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