Union’s coaches maintain rigorous schedules year-round

By Amanda Parrish, Staff Writer

Plan. Practice. Recruit.

For coaches at Union, this is the pattern day-in and day-out, sometimes before the sun comes up to long after it sets.

As the sports seasons rotate between soccer,  basketball, baseball, softball and golf, a typical day in the life of a coach involves  constant movement.

The season is in full swing for baseball and softball, so coaches spend much of their time organizing and planning for their teams.

Brent Fronabarger, Bulldogs head baseball coach, said the season is particularly busy because of organizing students’ schedules for practices.

Accommodating students’ schedules is far from an easy challenge, and Fronabarger said the team will frequently practice in groups according to their positions before or after group practices.

Every day, Fronabarger also spends anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour developing a practice schedule for his team.

Students on the team and graduate assistants such as Matt Fike, senior media communications major, graduate assistant for the baseball team and former pitcher, notice the work it takes for Fronabarger to organize scheduling.

“Coach Fronabarger understands the importance of our education, and he is not going to allow baseball to keep a kid from getting the classes or hours that he needs,” Fike said.

Many scheduling challenges this season also revolve around constant recruiting.

Fronabarger said he spends nearly half of every week watching high school or junior college teams play. Some days traveling to watch a game can keep a coach or assistant coach out as late as midnight.

Most evenings or early mornings, coaches spend time sending letters and emails or making calls to potential players. Fronabarger said it is important to keep both the present and the future in mind for the team.

“The biggest challenge this time of year is not neglecting one for the other,” Fronabarger said. “The hardest part is staying with your team now and making sure that you’re getting your stuff done around all the other things that need to be done to make you as good in the future.”

Heather Hall, Lady Bulldogs head softball coach, said the recruiting process goes beyond making occasional phone calls. Much time is invested in building relationships through the semester and into the summer.

“It’s not just knowing (players) while they’re here; it’s knowing them through the recruiting process and knowing the families,” Hall said. “Union is a unique school and a special place, so it takes a special person to come to the program who’s going to fit into this atmosphere. It’s almost my job to get to know the women before they get here.”

Besides building relationships, planning practices, recruiting and preparing for games, Hall said she also is overseeing and helping organize scholarship renewals while communicating with enrollment counselors for her players.

For coaches who are now in their off season, life does not slow down. Mark Campbell, women’s head basketball coach, said April is one of the busiest months of the year for him.

Planning for summer camp, finishing recruiting and adjusting to NCAA Division II changes keeps him busy.

Campbell said the camp planning process involves making and distributing 50,000 brochures, creating T-shirts, organizing workers and handling insurance logistics.

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The Cardinal & Cream is a student publication of Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. Our staff ranges from freshmen to seniors and includes a variety of majors — including journalism, public relations, advertising, marketing, digital media studies, graphic design and art majors.