(Photo by Shamus Ian Fatzinger/Fairfax Times)
Just beyond a basketball hoop in the Madison High gym, tucked behind the door festooned with baseball photos and newspaper clippings, an artist puts the finishing touches on his latest masterpiece. His right hand works furiously across the canvas before him, his back hunched below a clock fast approaching 3 p.m.
Finally, Mark “Pudge” Gjormand drops his pen and emerges with his finished handiwork: a wrinkled piece of paper full of chicken scratch. He immediately likens it to a Picasso painting.
“Or maybe a Rembrandt,” he says. “Or Michelangelo.”
Gjormand’s work may not be as alluring as a Picasso classic, but it’s nearly as meticulous. The 8×11 sheet reflects a mind churning on equal parts control and detail: “3:25: Inf. Ground ball drill/Get dirty.” … “3:40: Stations: Live pick throw down/Forehand.” … “3:50: Multipurpose 1, 2, 3.”
Only two phrases on the computer paper are typed. At the top is the whole enterprise: “James Madison High School Baseball.” At the bottom is what drives it: “Prepare to perform.”
Like an architect clutching a blueprint, Gjormand holds the practice plan up to the light to get a final look. It’s the guide to his team’s improvement and, in his eyes, the reason his baseball program has been Northern Virginia’s most consistent over the last dozen years.
“I want my kids to feel like they’ve done four hours of work in a two-hour practice,” Gjormand says. “If we just came out and did [batting practice] and did the same thing every day, we would lose them. You’ve got to keep them sharp mentally.”
Now in his 19th year at the helm, Gjormand knows exactly where today’s practice plan will go. He’ll place it right on top of yesterday’s, in one of three drawers storing every practice plan he’s ever devised, including ones for his kids’ little league teams.
Before he does that, though, Gjormand folds the plan up as he rushes out the door. He needs to be on the field at 3:05 p.m. Continue reading Madison baseball’s long rise to the top