In the newest rendition of intramural hustle, we move away from the intramural fields and over to their sexy next door neighbor, club sports. Club sports athletes gracefully walk that fine line between too good for intramural, and not quite good enough for varsity. These athletes remind us everyday that mediocrity does indeed come at different levels.
Name: Jonathan “Danger” Baba
Sport: Club Lacrosse
Position: Sideline Specialist
Average Hair Length: Flowing, cut just below the ear
Average 40 Time: 5.8 seconds
Team Motto: “It was a greaser!” and “Possession shot!”
This week, I had a chance to sit down with Jonathan “Danger” Baba, a sophomore defenseman for Miami’s club lacrosse team. As a semi-determined student-athlete, Baba took me through a week with the team, revealing all and sparing no one.
Unlike intramural teams, or at least I’d say the vast majority of intramural teams, club teams have practice several times a week (side note: for any intramural teams that have practices, do less). Club lacrosse practices are held every Tuesday and Wednesday from 7:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Naturally, practice actually begins around 7:50 p.m., when the majority of the team shows up.
“Practices are interesting, we usually have music playing on the loud speakers. Usually ‘Today’s Top Hits’ including Migos, and Chance to name a few. Strangely, we split the field with Club Quidditch.”
At these practices, the team is led by a wholesome, charismatic coach who reminds you of your favorite, estranged Midwestern uncle (not the creepy one).
Baba comments, “He’s more of a Saban than a Meyer. Very supportive of all the players.”
After a half-lap that leaves many wheezing, the team breaks into individual stretches that do very little to minimize the chances of injury. Passing drills follow, giving the team ample time to catch up with one another while avoiding stray balls.
The talent of the team is really showcased during the next part of practice, where the team runs sixes — essentially scrimmaging. Here, we see the team transcend the intramural level of competition, as we see the collection of former-prep-school stars break out old dodges and trick shots that leave ankles broken and defenders lost.
The team represents Miami in collegiate competitions against other schools and, for whatever reason, hosts these games at Mason High School.
On the team’s pregame mental strategy, Baba says that, “The speakers at Mason High School on opposite ends of the field are about five seconds out of sync on songs. It gives the other team pregame headaches — they never see it coming.”
Consistent with Ohio weather, Baba finds trouble prepping for the games as he always finds himself unable to find comfortable clothing to match the weather.
He says, “I’m always too cold because I didn’t wear my sweats, or too hot because I put on the sweats. Can’t ever get it right.”
Games are usually marred by bad weather, which leaves bitter officials often making questionable calls.
“We chirp the refs every now and again because they are pretty garbage,” says Baba.
The team generally goes into games confident in their ability to win, largely inspired by their four loyal fans.
“Games are interesting. Sometimes they’re just awful, and sometimes they’re good. When parents come to the games Mom expects Division 1, Dad anticipates JV.”
Baba describes himself as “not a go-to starter” on a team that has proven to be a contender this season. As of my interview with Baba, the team sits at a 4-1 record with a recent 16-5 victory over Purdue, which qualifies them for the end of season conference tournament in St. Louis from April 28th-30th.