Eden Prairie baseball

Like other Eden Prairie High School baseball teams, this year's Eagles had planned to spend their spring break at the Buck O’Neil Baseball Complex in Sarasota, Florida, spring training home of the Baltimore Orioles.

Dan Rubischko, head softball coach at Eden Prairie High School, had the hotel manger at the Florida hotel his team stayed at during last year's spring training trip tentatively reserve this year's dates when they checked out.

“When the season ends in May you start planning for the following year,” said Rubischko.

That meant circling back to the hotel manager.

Fundraising, including the team's major flower-sale fundraiser, is near completion.

“The girls just have to make their deliveries,” said the coach.

A week ago last Saturday, this year's trip, along with almost everything else, was canceled.

The same fate struck the Eden Prairie High School baseball program's spring training trip.

“We had 37 players ready to go, and eight chaperons,” said Eden Prairie baseball coach John Buteyn. “In our heyday, the number was close to 60.”

Heggies pizzas had been sold as part of a fundraising program. Camps had been worked. Carry-out duties had been performed.

“I feel for our seniors,” said Buteyn. “For our sophomores and juniors, they'll hopefully get another chance.”

For Buteyn, the planning process for this year’s trip began last July.

“You apply to the district,” he said. “You outline your budget and make approximate reservations with the airlines and the hotel.

“We tell the players and their families about the trip in September,” he added.

Suddenness

Buteyn remembers the questions that surrounded the Ivy League when it canceled its conference basketball tournament.

“That seems like a year ago,” he said. “Our trip was canceled on a Saturday and school was canceled that Sunday.

“What hurts the most,” he added, “is that I haven’t had a face-to-face talk with our players. The suddenness in all this has been absurd.”

Rubischko had a week of softball practice before everything turned on its head.

“In our discussion about what might happen with the virus, we talked about never experiencing something like this before,” said the coach. “When I asked my players to raise their hands if they could remember what happened after 9/11, no one raised their hands. They weren’t alive back then.

When asked about what happened after the Spanish Flu of 1918, no one raised their hands.

“My pitcher spoke up,” added Rubischko. “She said coach, you’re the only one old enough to be around back then.”

Funny stuff.

Remember, that discussion took place before everything changed.

“School closing and the chance that no one goes back wasn't on anyone's radar,” said the coach.

Refund

Three seniors were scheduled to go on this year’s spring training softball trip.

“That makes it easier,” said Rubischko. “We can reimburse the seniors. The parents of the other players want to roll everything into next year.”

The tricky, or sticky, cancellation has been the plane ride.

“They want to give us vouchers,” said Rubischko.

Baseball had more than dozen seniors slated to go on its trip.

“The hotel, rental vehicles, field rentals, lunches and jerseys have been refunded,” said Buteyn. “The difficult one has been the airline.

“They don’t want to break what paid as a group into individuals,” he said, “and they want to give us vouchers.”

Buteyn doesn't want vouchers. Families don't want vouchers.

Backdrop

The Eden Prairie baseball team had qualified for the MSHSL state tournament in three of the last four years.

“There was a buzz around our softball program,” said Rubischko. “We were conference and section champions. We couldn't wait to get going.

“Now, we're just hoping to have a season,” he added.

Hoping and waiting continues.

Sports editor

Dan Huss covers Eden Prairie sports and especially loves reporting on sports features and outdoors-related adventures. He lives in Shorewood with his wife, Marnie, daughters Aili and Britt, and Wilma, a pheasant-finding Deutsch Drahthaar.

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