Since its relegation to a club sport in the early 90s, not much has changed with the Wisconsin baseball program. Coaches came and went, games were won and lost and players found a place to continue to play the sport they loved.
This year’s edition of the club baseball team breaks that trend in a surprising, yet significant way.
Freshman Leah Terry and sophomore Kirsten Storhoff recently became the first two official managers in the history of the University of Wisconsin club baseball team. Since its transition to a club program in the early 90s, the program has gone on with only coaches and players, lacking any other outside help.
Terry and Storhoff both have extensive experience with baseball in their personal lives that began prior to their arrival in Madison.
“I first got interested in baseball when I was little, my grandpa was the biggest influence for me,” Terry said. “He taught me how to love baseball and I only got to watch it when I went to my grandparents’ house.”
Storhoff also explained that she developed a love for baseball as she grew up going to her older brother’s baseball games.
For both of them, managing was a way to work alongside the sport they loved in both high school and college, as their experience with managing baseball teams began before they ever reached out to the UW club baseball team.
“I managed [the baseball team] all four years in high school as well,” Storhoff said. “I was a pitchers manager, I kept track of how many pitches [my brother] threw. I used to be able to tell the difference between a curveball and a slider, so I recorded that as well as balls and strikes.”
Terry explained she also spent time with her high school’s baseball team, keeping track of team stats just so she could spend time with the game she had grown to love.
While most people disregard the mass emails that clubs sports and various other student organizations send out at the beginning of each year, it was those emails that initially piqued the interest of these two new managers.
“[The team] honestly wasn’t on my radar,” Terry said. “And then I got a mass email that was sent out to every student saying to come try out for the baseball team. Obviously I couldn’t try out but I emailed the coach listed at the bottom saying, ‘hey, I really love baseball, is there any way I could get involved with the program?’.”
Storhoff shared a similar story of receiving a mass student email that prompted her to reach out to the team’s management and try to get involved. The fact that the manager position didn’t exist at the time stopped neither Terry and Storhoff nor the coaching staff from paving the way forward.
Even as they knew that no one, especially women, had ever tried to get involved with the team behind the scenes, Terry and Storhoff pressed on to get involved with the sport they loved.
“It was funny because J.J., [ the president of the team], in his first response, I could tell that he wasn’t exactly sure of something specific in mind for me to do,” Terry explained. “His big thing was ‘we’ve never had managers before so we want you to get something out of this too’ which I really appreciated.”
Through some soul-searching regarding the roles of the position and cooperation, the newly formed title of UW club baseball team manager came into existence.
After figuring out just exactly what they could do to help the team, both Terry and Storhoff got to work right away, as they detailed their responsibilities of filming players and keeping records throughout tryouts.
Since joining the team, both explained the level of talent the team possesses, even as a non-varsity sport, is highly impressive. More importantly, the team functions as a tight-knit unit united around a love for the game.
“I am impressed by the returning players and how close they feel,” Storhoff said. “You can feel the friendships and the sense of family. There was some really good talent that tried out this year so they’re right in there coaching and encouraging.”
In club baseball, there are no scholarships and there are certainly no paid managers. The only thing keeping everyone involved with the team is a love for the game and the camaraderie that comes with it.
It is what drives the team to be great and it is what drove Terry and Storhoff to continue their careers in baseball management here in Madison. Without the community, collegiate baseball would cease to exist in this great city.
On top of their management duties, Terry and Storhoff will also be handling much of the media content for the team. If you want to follow their progress throughout the season, follow their twitter account @clubbaseballUW!