Omaha Challenge on the Horizon for Rebel Baseball
Nov. 13, 2017
By Davis McCool, OleMissSports.com
OXFORD, Miss. – The efforts of the Ole Miss baseball offseason will be on full display in the 2017 Omaha Challenge, where a week of physically and mentally demanding events and challenges will provide the culmination of all the hard work put in throughout the fall.
“The Omaha Challenge has been a staple here for quite a while under Coach Bianco,” Strength and Conditioning Coach Zach Boone said. “I think he started it early in his tenure here to help the guys to finish better. It’s kind of the end-of-fall finale for us. We’re going to have a week-long challenge, and each day is going to be a little different. At the end of the week, you’re going to have a team champion crowned and an individual champion crowned.”
This year’s challenge will pit four groups of Rebels and their teams against each other, each with the hope of taking home the crown. The team’s three seniors – Will Golsan, Tim Rowe, and Will Stokes – will each captain a team this year, while junior Brady Feigl leads the last group.
This year’s challenge will also feature a new man at the helm, as Boone, in his first year as the team’s Strength and Conditioning coordinator, will be taking the reins of the Omaha Challenge and leading the team through a strenuous week of activities.
“My whole thing this year, when I got here, and after reading the room and talking with both the coaching staff and the players, I’m just trying to feel out what this program needs,” Boone said. “They’re already, year-to-year, one of the strongest teams both physically and mentally in the SEC, everybody can see that, and that comes back to the culture that Coach Bianco has set here. So, my whole thing when I got here was to continue that, but also fine-tune it a little bit, so we’ve done a ton of power development and mobility work, a lot of things to just make the guys more explosive and powerful. This week, in the Omaha Challenge, I want to showcase a lot of that.”
Differing from years past, this Omaha Challenge will feature a different theme for each day. Monday will be combine day, Tuesday is strong man day, Wednesday is track and field day, Thursday is the rec sports day (or ‘Country Club Day,’ as it is known within the clubhouse), and, finally, ‘Finish Friday,’ which features the Omaha Challenge Course, a fitting finale to the week’s events.
Other than the thematic nature of the days, each individual event is purposefully kept private to the players to enhance the mental aspect of the challenge.
“We don’t want the guys knowing ahead of time what’s on their plate,” Boone said. “We want part of the mental challenge, the psychological battle of this is that you don’t know what’s coming until the day before.”
The Omaha Challenge, designed in part to assess the team’s strength and conditioning abilities at the end of the fall, also serves as a healthy reminder for the players that no matter how tough this week will get, it all plays into the long-term goal, which is to make it to Omaha.
“Every athlete likes a challenge, especially the type of high-caliber athletes that we have here,” Boone said. “This is the most competition that they’re going to have in a strength-and-conditioning standpoint all year, because they’re competing all day, and good athletes enjoy that high level of competition, even though it may be both physically and mentally challenging.”
This week will test the players to their physical extremes, but will provide lessons for the future both on and off the baseball field.
“It’s about learning how to handle things outside of baseball that challenge you physically, mentally, and emotionally. Things will get heated between teammates, and these guys will be pushed to the limit, and it’s all about just seeing how they respond, because adversity translates in a lot of different ways. If we are able to handle adversity well here in the Omaha Challenge, then I think when turmoil pops up in the season, we’ll be able to draw from experiences from this week.”
For all Ole Miss Baseball news and information, visit the official athletics site OleMissSports.com. For more social media updates, follow the Rebels on Twitter at @OleMissBSB, on Facebook at Ole Miss Baseball and on Instagram at olemissbsb.
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