4 Guys: The Post-Irma Inspiration For Recovery and Resurgence

by Randy Sullivan
in blog

Four guys…
4…
That’s the number of players who attended our 4:00 training class yesterday…
4…
Why were they there?
They have dreams.
They had work to do.

Would we have preferred to see more attendees?
Sure. We cap our numbers at 12 per class.
We typically average 6-8 guys per class.
But 4 was just fine.
No… after what we had been through, 4 was a victory!

Unless you have been living under a rock, you know that 2 days ago, Hurricane Irma came barreling up the spine of the Florida. Even though she had weakened significantly by the time she arrived at The Ranch, she still packed a wallop and gave us direct head-on shot blasting winds of over 100 mph and dumping over 11 inches of rain overnight.

As soon as the sun came up on Monday morning, I made a quick recon trip The Ranch to assess the damage.
I was overjoyed to see ALL of our facilities standing strong and ready as ever to host our baseball training camps and programs.

Our 6000 square foot throwing facility was unphased. That one gave me great pride, because 18 months ago, we built it ourselves by hand – one metal arch at a time… one bolt at a time… over 17,000 bolts and nuts. We had always wondered if it would hold up in a hurricane. The manufacturer assured us it would and it did!

Our long toss lane was unphased. The bullpens were intact and of equal significance…
The Battery, (our 2 covered cages and 100 x 100’ infield with 40’ high net walls and a net roof) was still standing. Even the two 30’ x 10’ windscreens enticing our hitters to “hit the bull and win a steak” were flying high like old glory after the Star Spangled bombardment of Fort McHenry.

But, it wasn’t all peaches and cream.

The rain left us with a couple of inches of standing water in a few low-lying areas, and there was debris everywhere. Tree limbs and leaves covered nearly every horizontal surface on the property. There would certainly be a lot of hard work ahead, but judging by some of the tragic circumstances folks further South had experienced, we had come out pretty well.

After the brief inspection, I jaunted home to spend about 3 hours cleaning up my own yard, then hustled back to the Ranch. When I arrived, I found our CFO/COO, Amy Marsh there with her family and a few extra kids from her neighborhood. They were all hard at work. It had been less than 12 hours since the storm had unleashed her fury on The Ranch and the cleanup process had already begun. After a few hours of getting organized, moving equipment, and dragging a fallen tree out the driveway using a Ford F-150 and a 50 ft battle rope, we all headed home for the night.

At 8:00 am sharp on Sep 12th, the cavalry arrived and charged in to battle.

Ok maybe the cavalry is an overstatement, but the yesterday Corey Stump (lead instructor), Jordan Rassman (instructor/data analyst), Amy Marsh, her son Dalton and I performed the work one would expect from a much larger force – one with much more experience in manual labor activities.
We worked with a fervor and passion I’ve never seen. With our power still disabled, we started on the inside of the building and worked outward. We cleaned, re-organized and restored all the equipment to its original location and status. Then we went to work on the outside.

It seemed every square foot on the property was littered with tree limbs, mud, and fallen debris. Using a Redmax EBZ 7500 backpack leaf blower, 3 rakes and 2 pickup trucks, we piled and hauled about a quarter acre of Irma’s mess to a corner of the parking lot where it will be burned in few days.

We worked like crazed Tazmainan Devils to get The Florida Baseball Ranch® back up and on it’s feet. It was actually kind of fun.

No one complained or questioned. Everyone just worked. They worked. And then they worked some more.

School in our area is canceled until Monday, but we know Ranch Guys. And, we know Ranch Guys get their training done, regardless of circumstance. It’s what they do. So we knew someone would show up. And we thought maybe, just maybe our service would allow a few of our players and their families to escape, if only for a couple of hours, the struggles they faced in restoring their own homes and communities.

At around 3:45, we pulled out a laptop that had been charging in a car and used a personal hotspot from an I-phone to log onto the internet. We checked our class manager for a list of registrants for the 4:00 class. We pulled the appropriate charts, referencing each player’s individualized training plan. And, at exactly 3:58, still not connected to the power grid, we fired up a generator and wired it to our sound system and a giant Porta-Cool fan.
At 4:00 the dynamic warmup began and the class went off without a hitch.

How many people signed up?

Just 4…

Cole, a college Lefty, rehabilitating from an injury is from Fountain Inn, SC. He rode out the storm at the home of a family friend and reported for class as planned. He completed his training and then hopped a plane back home. Why would he make such a sacrifice? He has dreams. He had work to do.

Cam is a 9th grader who started training with us 18 months ago after cracking his radius and ulna literally in half in a horrific basketball accident (you should see the video – it’ll make your gut turn). Cam started at 68 mph and recently touched 85 three times during his high school tryout. He has dreams. He had work to do.

Luke is a high school senior. A catcher by trade, he came in for one last tune up before heading out to a college visit in North Carolina. He spent the day on the field working on pop-times and accuracy of  throws to all bases. He has dreams. He had work to do.

Garrett is a freshman in high school and just started training with us last week. He came to a Wednesday night evaluation and has attended one subsequent class. His high school coach, Dave Schafer sent him over along with a few other young pitchers with instructions to skip their high school fall seasons and “get to The Ranch to get stronger and better”. Coach Schafer is building a program, and he understands that developing his young guys is a top priority. Coach Schafer believes in Garrett enough to recommend this training. And, if Coach Shafer believes, then Garrett is all in! He has dreams. He had work to do.

Just 4 guys… 4 guys with dreams…

But it might has well have been 40…
I beamed with pride as each player matriculated through his throwing plan and then completed a power-building workout. As the class ended, I reflected on how incredible our team had been all day. Together we had achieved what to many would appear to be a very small victory. But to the staff at The Florida Baseball Ranch® this was the equivalent of a world championship.

Why did we work so hard, with such a sense of urgency?
Because there was a throwing class scheduled for 4:00 and we knew we have clients who have dreams. They had work to do…They needed to train… And that is what we do…We train baseball players.

Our company ethos states that we will “meet every player exactly where he is, regardless of age or ability level.” And soon we will add “and regardless of life circumstance.”

To all still suffering in the aftermath of this devastating natural disaster, our hearts and prayers go out to you. We understand that our tiny achievement pales in comparison to what many will face. But, in our little sliver of this vast universe, we celebrated a victory…
With 4 guys we’ll always remember.
Four guys with dreams…
who had work to do.

We’ll see you at The Ranch.

Share this article

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *