Gophers head coach John Anderson has always believed that the leader of a team has to be the team itself.
That was on display this past summer, as members of the baseball team took the initiative to change the team’s offseason lifting routine.
“We tried to come together and change the atmosphere in the weight room,” sophomore pitcher Lance Thonvold said. “In previous years, not that we hadn’t been weightlifting, but it wasn’t exactly something we put a lot of focus toward.”
Thonvold said he, junior pitcher Ty McDevitt and junior utility player Mark Tatera led the charge.
“We were the ones who got together and decided — but it was a group effort — change doesn’t happen with just three people,” Thonvold said. “If we wanted to make anything happen, everyone had to be on board, and everybody was.”
Thonvold said the team’s offseason regimen used to consist of lifting three days a week while using Tuesday and Thursday as conditioning days.
The new plan included lifting five days a week as a group.
“The five-day-a-week push was kind of what we needed,” Thonvold said. “It’s a camaraderie thing for us, and I think it really helped.”
A group of players met with team coaches and strength coaches, and Anderson said the players helped “design our program and put it in play.”
While some coaches might have strict instructions with their offseason plans, Anderson is a little different.
“I want guys to become independent, critical thinkers and take ownership of their experience,” he said.
Tatera said the coaching staff gives the team a lot of responsibility, and players wanted to bring a new intensity to the program.
“We’ve had so much success in the program that at times, we get a little lackadaisical in our preparation,” he said.
Players sat down this summer and also talked about changing their attitudes at practice in order to play faster and with more passion, Tatera said.
Thonvold said he hopes to see the work manifest on the field.
“If you do a lot of good offseason work like that, you’re going to see the results in the spring,” Thonvold said. “We figured why not … see if we can make an improvement in areas that we’re lacking, and that’s what we did.”
Thonvold said players training together and knowing their teammates have been working hard gives them confidence and trust in each other.
The Gophers baseball players have referred to the season as a “grind” time and time again, and the goal is to be ready for it.
“In the later parts of your season, you know your body is going to hold up because of the work you put in in the preparation,” Thonvold said.