My name is Jon Drahos and I am an assistant coach at Lewis University in Romeoville, IL. Lewis competes at the NCAA Division II level and is a member of the Great Lakes Valley
Conference. The team is coming off a good year, having achieved all three of our team goals: 1) Win 30 Games, 2) Win the regular season GLVC Championship, and 3) Participate in the Midwest Regional. The Flyers currently ranked between 18th and 30th national in the Division II pre-season polls and we are both excited for the chance to live up to those expectations and wary of the fact that we now play with a target on our backs due to the accolades. On paper we have a solid team which features a good mix of returnees (7 of 10 positional starters from last season) and highly recruited newcomers from the junior college and high school ranks. This will be my seventeenth year coaching baseball at the collegiate level. At Lewis University I am the hitting coach and I am also responsible for the outfielders defensively.
As I write this blog entry, we are headed down I65 en route to Nashville to open up our season against Trivecca Nazarene, Union, and Ohio Dominican in Nashville, TN. The players are excited to finally get on the field after many long weeks of practice in the field house, and the enthusiasm is as contagious as Olympic Fever. This being my second year at Lewis and in Division II, I have a better idea of the caliber of baseball and what to expect from our opponents, so in that sense it is easier to organize our practice activities in order to get where we need to be when the season begins, from an offensive perspective. The lead-up to the season last year was a bit nerve-racking because I was not familiar with DII baseball and was unsure if some of things that we do from a team approach would translate to this level. At this point, it is safe to say that they do. Having an offensive game plan that is successful is one thing, but getting the players to believe in it is a completely different concept. To get todays players to buy into something new and different requires several factors working in concert. Firstly, the coach must be credentialed and have a successful body of work. Secondly, the drills and philosophy must make fundamental sense and be rooted in a well reasoned base. Lastly, the approach and drill work must yield positive results. Some players will believe because you are and have been a successful coach, some will believe because what you are saying makes sense, and some will believe when they see the positive effects that follow. Our hitters have done a good job of believing in our mural mission and team concept, and I am looking forward to witnessing our beginning efforts of the new season.
I would like to give recognition to our team captains: Stanley Kapka, Ben Albano and Tom Helwich. Their energy, enthusiasm and dedication to our vision of The Lewis Way makes it easy to coach.