Sept. 20, 2012
The Iron Owl Award has become a fall tradition that leads to success each spring for the Florida Atlantic University baseball program. Now in its fifth year, this "friendly" offseason contest helps fuel the competitive drive among the players -- testing them mentally and physically. It also provides insight on those players that have shown improvement since last season and could predict players that might have breakout spring seasons.
Players compete in a variety of physical fitness tests (including an 880-meter dash, tire roll and swimming) and also are tested on their knowledge of the game's fundamentals. Finally, players' fall semester grades are entered into the final standings. The Iron Owl Award is an important reason, in my opinion, why the team doesn't beat themselves on the diamond and has the best record among Sun Belt Conference teams during the past three seasons - with two regular-season championships!
Hudak turned his award-winning performance into an all-conference season in 2011, finishing second in the SBC in hitting with a .360 batting average.
Last year, Garcia was steady and a consistent force on the mound for Head Coach John McCormack last spring, posting a sub-2.00 earned run average for much of the season.
Lou Morey also had strong outings after coming off strong fall offseason periods.
So far, junior pitcher Kevin Alexander is this year's Iron Owl Award leader after winning the first two events. However, senior catcher Mike Spano and sophomore pitcher Bo Logan are close behind. View the complete standings here.
If the past is any indication, this year's award winner won't be determined until the last event of the fall, the players' grades are entered - showcasing the importance that Coach McCormack and his coaching staff places on performance off the playing field.
Keep track of this year's competition on the baseball team's web page throughout this fall. It should once again pay off big dividends on the field for the Owls next spring.