Lamphere baseball team living right following trip to Florida

By: Mike Moore | Madison - Park News | Published April 16, 2014

 Alex Peace fields a grounder against Athens. Lamphere has gone to Florida five times now since 2003 for an extended spring-training experience.

Alex Peace fields a grounder against Athens. Lamphere has gone to Florida five times now since 2003 for an extended spring-training experience.

Photo by Donna Agusti

There was team bonding. There were amusement parks, nights in a hotel, and just enough baseball to keep things in order.

Oh, and there was sunshine — plenty of it.

“Can’t complain too much right now,” Lamphere baseball coach Adam Wooley said last week when reached by phone. While rain fell in metro Detroit, and temperatures, somewhat improving, found their ways into the 50s, Wooley was basking in the Florida sun, stopping short of saying things were too hot for comfort.

“We’re here in about 85 degrees. It’s pretty nice,” he said.

It’s also somewhat of a tradition for the Rams — one that isn’t held every year but more so done on a when-it’s-possible schedule.

And the schedule was right in 2014.

“It all comes back to the interest we have from the kids, and the ‘whether or not we can pull it off,’” Wooley said from Orlando about the extended spring training he and his squad enjoyed from April 6-11. “We use the time to practice, scrimmage each other, enjoy some rides and have a good time. It’s something I think everyone enjoys.”

The entire trip, from the flight to the hotels to the meals, is self-funded, Wooley explained.

The team began a few fundraising events last August, and in the end, he said it costs about $1,000 per player to go, with roughly $500-$650 out-of-pocket.

“Its tremendous, as far as the team bonding goes,” Wooley said. The team stayed at Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort, and held most of its baseball work within the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. “With a location like this, you’re in an enclosed place where the fun is governed by the surroundings. We’ve been from theme park to theme park, and then at the same time, they get a chance to feel what it’s like to be on the road, stay in hotels and wake up to play baseball.”

Due to Michigan High School Athletic Association border rules for competition, Lamphere was not allowed to play or scrimmage any other team while on the trip, but Wooley said packing enough into the schedule was hardly a problem.

He was also quick to point out the noticeable benefits of the experience — beyond a tan, that is.

“With the teams we’ve done it with in the past, I don’t think there’s any coincidence that those have been some of our more successful seasons,” he explained.

Wooley’s first team to go was in 2003, and that squad reached the regional finals.

In 2006, the Rams returned to Florida, then went 21-7 that spring and reached the state quarterfinals.

In 2008, the Rams went 23-4 and won the Macomb Area Conference Gold.

“The lone exception was probably 2009, the last time we went,” Wooley said of a team that finished 11-12. “But that was a team that suffered some devastating injuries during the season.”

Now it’s on his 2014 squad to make the most of their investment.

“To be in the gym for a couple weeks, and then get (to Orlando) and play on professionally groomed fields in 85-degree weather, it’s not too difficult to get ready to play baseball,” Wooley said. “We’re looking forward to getting back and seeing what we can make of this season.”