New Baseball Coach Brings Science, Sport Together
By Jennifer Willis
With the MLB All-Star Game taking center stage in GCU’s backyard, it seemed fitting for the Antelopes’ head baseball coach, Andy Stankiewicz, and his staff to share their love of the game.
It all began when the Arizona Science Center in downtown Phoenix was approached to do a sports science type of camp during the week of the Midsummer Classic. Joshua Sheehan, a GCU alumnus who is guest relations manager at the center, immediately thought of his alma mater and contacted the Athletics Department to see what arrangements could be made.
The three-day camp, which began on Monday and concluded Wednesday, included nearly 20 participants from ages 10 to 12. Aside from learning about the game of baseball, campers also learned how nutrition and physical fitness help players compete at the highest levels.
Stankiewicz, an original Arizona Diamondback who was hired in the spring as GCU’s new head coach, went down to the Science Center on Monday to talk to campers about the science and math involved in the game of baseball.
“We talked about the science behind throwing a curveball,” Stankiewicz said, “about what it takes to make contact with a bat, the differences between topspin versus backspin, and how the swing of your bat becomes scientific based upon the angle at which it’s swung.”
Also discussed were the intricacies of numbers and statistics and how things that are learned in math class at school can apply to baseball.
“This was a great opportunity to get the kids excited about not only the game but the behind-the-scenes part of the game as well,” Stankiewicz said. “It helped them see that math and science do apply to real-world situations.”
On Wednesday, the campers came to GCU to spend the morning with Stankiewicz and his staff. They were taken on a tour of campus that included the new Student Recreation Center.
“We were excited to use this as an opportunity to show off GCU,” Stankiewicz said. “We just wanted to get them on campus, show them what’s going on. There were parents with them, so we wanted to show how the landscape here has changed over the last few years and get them excited about thinking of coming here. These are possible future students.”
After the tour, the coaches worked with the campers on basic hitting, running and fielding drills at Brazell Stadium.
“With the All-Star Game in town, this was a great time to try to promote baseball and our program,” Stankiewicz said. “Bringing them to the campus to do some drills, they were able to have some hands-on time and experience firsthand the things they learned throughout the week.”
Although it’s important for young players to be good teammates and to have energy and passion for the game, Stankiewicz said he focused on fun.
“I might be a little biased,” the coach said with a smile, “but I think this game is designed really well. It’s designed to have fun.”
Reach Jennifer Willis at 639.7383 or Jennifer.firstname.lastname@example.org.