By Bob Nuse, Sports Editor
Danny Borup is hoping a full season in the Atlantic Baseball Confederation Collegiate League helps prepare him for a successful sophomore season at The College of New Jersey.
Rich Gawlak is hoping another year managing a team in the ABCCL helps him move closer to perhaps one day running his own college program.
For both of the West Windsor-Plainsboro High South graduates, the league is the perfect place to be this summer.
“It is nice being able to play with other college kids and kids you see on the other side of the field during the regular season,” said Borup, who got just seven at bats as a backup infielder during his freshman year at TCNJ. “It’s nice to play kids from other colleges. We have a good time and it is pretty stress free. It is a lot of fun.”
Borup is getting regular playing time for the Clemente Baseball Club, whose roster also includes WW-P North graduate Sidd Kumar and Princeton High graduate Ben Gross. The team plays its home games in South Brunswick and took an 8-14 record into the all-star break and will resume play this weekend. WW-P South graduate Austin Linder is playing with the DiMaggio team.
“I didn’t get many reps in the regular season so now I am starting to get into a groove,” said Borup, who has 46 at bats already this summer. “It was a learning experience for me this year. I learned a lot more about the game. Being in the dugout we’re always doing charts and binders and paperwork. In high school and travel I never got that experience. I think it has helped me became a lot more aware of the game.”
The 10-team league plays a full schedule and is made up of college players from the New Jersey area.
“We play four games a week so it is nice to be able to go out and play loose,” Borup said. “I really just want to get some confidence. I didn’t get many reps this season so now I am trying to get some confidence and play well in the field. I’ll see where that takes me in the future.”
Borup hopes the summer helps get him ready for next season at TCNJ. The team practices in the fall in preparation for the spring season. One of Borup’s coaches at TCNJ is Gawlak, who has led the Freehold Clippers to an 18-3-1 record and a spot at the top of the standings.
“This is my fourth summer with the team,” said Gawlak, who has coached the last eight seasons at TCNJ. “The last two years I have also worked as the general manager. I was the assistant last year this year kind of took over. We get to reach out to any of the programs that we want to and see if we get interest from coaches. They see if their players have an interest in our league. So I have reached out to different kids from New Jersey and get contact info and see where they want to play for the summer.”
Gawlak has his team at the top of the standings right now and hopes they stay there for the second half of the season.
“It has been fun so far,” Gawlak said. “Last year we were in first place most of the season and got cold at the wrong time and lost at end of the season. We have a bunch of the same kids with a couple additions and we’re looking to finish better this year.”
Gawlak, who is a physical education teacher and coach in Spotswood, has adapted well to coaching. He got his start helping Don Hutchinson coach the West Windsor-Plainsboro American Legion team and has continued to grow from there.
“I always though I would be a player still at this point,” Gawlak said. “But that part ended for me when college ended. I had to find a way to fill the void and I talked to Don Hutchinson and my father and they talked about getting into coaching.
“Hutch let me coach with him for a couple summers with Legion and then I coached with Dave Gallagher. After graduation I did two years as a volunteer assistant at TCNJ and now I am on year eight with them.”
Gawlak has enjoyed the coaching road and at some point hopes to perhaps have his own program to run.
“I would like to at some point get into the college coaching ranks,” he said. “I’ve had some interest but it hasn’t worked out so far. Dean (Glus) has provided me with a great opportunity. He is a wonderful mentor and I learned a lot from him and he is helping me any way possible.”
Gawlak has thoroughly enjoyed both the coaching and GM aspects of the summer team and it just adds to the overall experience.
“It’s funny because one of the players at TCNJ, his father used to run the Clippers,” Gawlak said. “They were stuck for a head coach and asked if I would like to do it and I have stayed with it. It has been beneficial, especially the GM aspect when you put together the talent. It is similar to recruiting.”
By Bob Nuse, Sports Editor