Denied a Season, Some Ivy League Athletes Craft a Baseball Gap Year

Burley, the catcher from central California, usually wakes up at 9 a.m., checks his email, eats breakfast, and drives 20 minutes to the training center. He goes through a catalog of exercises prescribed as part of an admission exam, using foam rollers, ribbons, baseball balls, or mobility balls to tighten his quads, hip flexors, adductors, hamstrings, glutes, calves, peroneals, and virtually any other muscle that is used could activate to play baseball.

After 60 to 90 minutes sufficiently warmed up, he goes through a potpourri of exercises (depending on the day of the week) such as ice skater lunges, bowler squats, high knee jumps, box jumps, side shuffles and sprints as well as a variety of contortions.

“I’ve never felt this athletic in my life,” said Burley. “I want to go to a basketball court and get involved with people.”

In the afternoon, the work on his body is translated into play. Burley catches jugs that could range from high schoolers to his Brown teammates to little leagues. Sometimes they work in simulated games or in scrimmages against rackets. “I see people throwing nasty balls that college folks haven’t got,” said Burley. “And I’m learning to read swings better, which helped me with pitch calling.”

On some days he works in the batting cages on his swing.

At 3 p.m., Burley drives back to his apartment, showering, eating, and drawing his attention to school, attending classes, most of which are taped, and doing his homework until he goes to bed. The other players followed a similar daily routine for almost two months – except on Sundays, when they often go to the beach when they are busy with schoolwork.

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