Post by: Anonymous College Prep Athlete
As a highschool senior I am writing to parents and players to share an experience I had. My sole purpose is to shed light and give unbiased feedback about what I went through. I know most kids go through the same.
This past summer I took the leap and played for AIM’s College Prep baseball team. I struggled a little bit during my junior Spring ball season. I felt like I needed a change of scenery and maybe a different coaching voice. This was my experience.
Coach Kelly was out to see some other guys on my team and saw me struggling. He invited me in for a tryout and seemed impressed with my athleticism. When I was invited to play with AIM it was nice to feel wanted. He didn’t seem concerned that I had just struggled through during the past season. He talked a lot about the potential he saw in me.
My options for the summer were:
1) play with a roster full of guys working to get ready for college.
2) stay in my high school environment where the coaches didn’t really show a lot of interest in me.
My family and I talked about it and decided to go with AIM. We looked at it as a chance to network over the summer, building relationships with some other guys who were headed to college. At this point I hadn’t talked with any schools and very much wanted to play in college. This was a move that I believe paid off. This fall I have been in touch with all the guys from the summer. It’s been valuable to hear their feedback about college. It has definitely helped shape my interest in a few schools.
Last minute I also decided to play my senior year of football. In my experience training for football and playing baseball over the summer was simply to much to ask both from a mental and physical aspect. Playing a doubleheader and then running to football practice is a lot to ask of an athlete on any given day. There wasn’t a lot of time to rest/recover/recuperate which impacted my performance at times over the summer. I only mention it to point out that when you are playing in front of college coaches and you’re not 100%, it makes it impossible for them to grade you out like you would prefer. While I enjoyed my senior year of football because it was a fun experience, if I had it to do again I would have just played baseball with AIM.
A great benefit to playing for AIM is the access to the facility. At AIM before the season, the staff perform evaluations to pinpoint our weaknesses and imbalances. They then create a specific program for you to improve those weaknesses. Prior to games or practices AIM has open gym hours. This is great because you can come to the facility to get a lift on, get extra swings on the HitTrax, or recover with lacrosse balls, foam rollers, and a Marc Pro (AIM has 5 on site). This is very beneficial because playing baseball games during the summer is just a small aspect of fully developing as a baseball player.
The team was made of players that have the same end goal in mind. They love the game of baseball and seek to play after high school. Surrounding myself with like minded people really elevated my game as a result. Whether that be grinding it out in the weight room, or competing for playing time, playing baseball with talented players that value hard work and competitiveness motivated me to work hard in order to compete. A prime example of competing with my teammates were the team records. AIM creates a competitive environment by keeping track stats. There are single season and career records for RBI’s, Stolen Bases, Singles, Doubles, Batting Average, etc. It was cool because it gave us something to work towards both as a team and individually, this brought a competitive aspect to the team that motivated us to perform our best every game. I can tell you as the season went on and stats were adding up; it was a topic that we talked about on most car rides.
I also ended up playing a few games with my high school team when we had a day off at AIM. Coaches asked that anytime I play with the HS over the summer I continue to swing wood so I wouldn’t lose the feel. The competition I saw with my HS was a step and a half down from what I saw with AIM. It was good to see the difference considering my concerns I had about where to play. I don’t know how much I would have really grown seeing lesser competition if I hadn’t made the move to AIM.
The exposure playing for AIM has been a great experience thus far. Playing in front of colleges at tournaments, and having Zane and staff as networks at AIM are very valuable if you are considering playing at the next level. They help you understand what schools are a good fit but will also reach out to anyone on your behalf. There were times I asked about a school and got a text from a coach there the same day.
The practice environment was a very good experience. On days we didn’t have practice we were in the facility practicing and getting better. I enjoy practicing at AIM because it is specific and to the point, but still laid back enough where I wasn’t worried about making mistakes. I could have fun and ask questions without worrying about being made to feel stupid. Typically pitchers will get their side-work in whether it’s flat grounds, bullpens, long toss or weighted balls, while outfielders and infielders practice specific position work. Using the HitTrax brings a whole new element of excitement and competitive spirit to practice. The HitTrax gathers specific hitting results ie: bat exit velocity, distance, launch angle, etc.. It stores the data so we can use it to drive practice plans. Typically at practice we will do specific drills and then end with some type of game. For example during a practice this summer we performed hit and runs, using the HitTrax allowed us to see if we could execute the scenario. It allows us to have measurable objectives and actual results.
I had a great experience last summer and I’m very much looking forward to doing it again next year. My advice to parents and players looking to make a move would be to do it. Do what what you feel will help put you in the best position to get where you want to go.