Oct. 23, 2015

The University of Notre Dame baseball team embarked on an once-in-a-lifetime adventure Tuesday morning (October 20), as the Irish program left Chicago for the Dominican Republic for a five-day trip that will feature four baseball games, some sightseeing and an exciting service opportunity.

Irish head coach Mik Aoki is blogging about the trip. Here’s his day four recap.

Day 3 In The Dominican Republic – October 22, 2015

Today was a day to decompress and get away from academics and baseball and be a regular college kid on a break. I would imagine that the guys would have preferred that the day started a bit later than it did, but at 8:15 a.m. (ADT) we departed for Isla de Saona. Most of our guys are pretty proficient at sleeping on a bus so they did get a chance to get a bit more sleep for the hour-or-so ride to the town of Bayahibi where the boat would take us to Saona. I get a kick out of the bus that we’re using this week. First it has curtains covering each window – which has the practical application of keeping the sun from turning the bus into a greenhouse on wheels. It has the secondary not-quite-as-practical application of making the bus look like an elongated version of Scooby Doo’s Mystery Machine. The bus also has a brand new flat screen TV hooked up to a DVD player, which we have used to play music on the pretty impressive sound system that the bus has. The bus also has WiFi. All of the technology on the bus seems quite at odds with the lack of technology outside of the bus. I digress …

Upon our arrival we made a short walk down to a couple of boats that served as shuttles to the large catamaran that we used to go to Saono. The trip took about another hour to get there so we arrived on the island around 11:30 a.m. (ADT) after getting squared away at each stop along the way. The hour was filled with dancing on the boat with a small contingent of locals enjoying a day off. About half of the team took part in the dancing at different times and acquitted themselves quite well – at the very least we were enthusiastic! The island is pretty much what everybody envisions when you think of the Caribbean – beautiful light and dark blue water that is gin clear, white sand beaches with tiki huts and palm trees. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. We spent three hours there. The guys hung out, went swimming, played volleyball (with decent skill), had lunch and relaxed.

Around 3 p.m. (ADT) we piled into two boats that are best described as power boats that can seat about 20 and we rode for 15 minutes to a spot where starfish abound – big ones! I think the official term for these creatures is now sea-stars (I’ll have to check with my kids but I think that’s right). The water was around three-feet deep and we hung out with a whole bunch of other folks. We grabbed the sea-stars, threw a football around (we are ND after all), had chicken fights and generally enjoyed 30 minutes messing around in the water. We hopped back into our boats and headed back to Bayahibi where we were besieged by peddlers trying to sell us their goods. Cigars, bucket hats and baseball hats seem to be official merchandise of most of the young entrepreneurs.

All in all it was a really good day. I am glad that our guys had a chance to enjoy a day on the beach like so many of their peers are probably doing this week or will be doing over spring break in March. As a college baseball player the stereotypical spring break trip is filled with baseball and not with beaches. I hope that our guys don’t look at that as a sacrifice as much as a decision because they’re getting to follow their passion for baseball. We’re back at it tomorrow.

–Mik Aoki, Head Baseball Coach