Beausoleil, Mariners grow up together
Norwich - Nothing can properly prepare a first-year college coach for days like Wednesday.
Travis Beausoleil watched his Mitchell College baseball team fight back from a 5-0 deficit in an important New England Collegiate Conference game to force extra innings, only to commit an error in the eighth that contributed to an 8-5 loss to Lesley University.
"It was a rough one," Beausoleil said. "We battled. The boys showed a lot of heart and a lot of pride coming back. We've had trouble fielding the baseball."
The difficult defeat ended a long day at Dodd Stadium that started with a 17-5 loss to Coast Guard Academy.
Yet approximately eight hours after arriving at the ballpark, Beausoleil left still feeling upbeat and optimistic about his young Mariners who have 18 freshmen, including six starters.
Beausoleil knew an abundance of patience would be required after taking over a program that lost every starter from last year's NECC champion and NCAA Division III tournament team.
The Mariners (7-18, 6-9), who were eliminated from qualifying for the NECC tournament with Wednesday's loss, have displayed a competitive spirit all season.
"It's been great," Beausoleil said of his first year. "We have a young, young squad. It's been a lot of teaching how to play the game.
" ... We're optimistic for where this program is going to be next year. We've competed with the best teams and we've got a good class coming in. ... We're still trying to figure out who we are as an identity and what personnel we have here.
"Every day is a new day and every day is an adventure."
Beausoleil is experiencing growing pains along with his Mariners. At 25, he's on the young side for a college head coach. His only previous experience running a program came on the AAU level for the New England Tides for four years.
When he applied for the Mitchell job, he hoped to just get an interview.
"Mo White, our athletic director, took a shot on a young coach and I'm very thankful every day," Beausoleil said.
He's had the good fortune of learning from the best, starting with his playing days at Plainfield High School under John Schiffner and then at UConn-Avery Point under Roger Bidwell. He developed into a two-time All-New England shortstop and earned All-American second team honors at Avery Point and went on to start at North Carolina Wesleyan.
It doesn't get better than Bidwell and Schiffner, Beausoleil said.
"I hope I can someday, when it's all said and done, compare myself to them," Beausoleil said.
While attending graduate school at UConn last year, Beausoleil served as a student manager on coach Jim Penders' staff. But he did much more than his title indicated.
He soaked up every bit of knowledge while playing a behind-the-scenes role in helping the Huskies reach the NCAA Super Regional.
Now he's hoping to enjoy similar success and teach valuable life lessons at Mitchell.
"I've got a lot to learn," Beausoleil said. "I'm learning every day just as they are. ... I think we relate. I can joke around with them probably a little more than I could joke around with coach Bidwell.
"It's enjoyable. ... There's going to be some growing pains, and we've had them. But it's a very good situation to be in."
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