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Druley: Cougars eschew nocturnal instincts

Published: Friday, May 31, 2013 5:30 a.m. CST

Bright-eyed and bushy-haired, Cougars first baseman Dan Vogelbach recently submitted to a morning show kind of question.

In the realm of Twitter hashtags trumpeting 11 or 11:30 a.m. starts, which did he prefer: #RiseandGrind or #WakeandRake?

Vogelbach and teammates are feeling both options out this spring, as many play games without lights for the first time in two seasons. A majority of Cougars were with Short-A Boise last season, and the Hawks started each of their home games after 7 p.m. local time.

“You have all that – rise and grind, wake and rake – but whatever gets you up individually and gets you rolling,” Vogelbach said. “Everybody has their own different thing. Some people like playing day games better. Like I’ve said, it’s still baseball. It’s still what you love to do, no matter what time it is.”

Players know day games are an occupational hazard of professional baseball. In the major leagues, getaway day games begin in the afternoon nearly every third day.

In the minors, Sunday matinees often are augmented by daytime games during the week that accommodate school field trips. That puts the onus on players to fill their social calendars in unfamiliar areas once they’re allowed to leave the ballpark.

Designated hitter/first baseman Rock Shoulders, for one, has led the charge for fishing.

“There’s always stuff to do, you know, hang out. But a lot of times, you’re so tired, the day wears you out, you don’t want to do much,” Vogelbach said. “But anything – fishing, hanging out with the boys. We’ve got a good group here, so it’s always a good time.”

Welcome DeBord: Recent St. Charles East graduate Will DeBord has tried to stay diligent with his early offseason lacrosse training.

Considering his offseason consists of just a few weeks, that’s especially commendable.

“I’m trying to keep the stick in my hands, so to speak, playing wall ball every day, but other than that, it’s basically just prepping for basics,” said DeBord, who is set to begin boot camp June 27 at the U.S. Air Force Academy.

DeBord committed to Air Force’s NCAA Division I lacrosse program in September 2011, but the longpole midfielder hardly has coasted since, staying fit through The Speed School in St. Charles.

He remained a stabilizing force when East split from the former St. Charles co-op entering the 2012 season as both St. Charles schools formed their own programs. Earlier this month, U.S. Lacrosse tabbed him as a high school All-American – the lone player of his position from Illinois.

“I couldn’t believe it,” DeBord said. “It was a great day.”

The first member of his immediate family to join the armed forces – DeBord’s grandfathers served in the Navy and Coast Guard, respectively – he also will carry his state’s flag at Air Force.

Wheaton Warrenville South product Jacob Kazar, a sophomore defender, was the lone Illinoisan on the Falcons’ 2013 roster.

Boenzi to Grand Valley: Watch out, Northern Illinois – Grand Valley State might just be the nation’s next big pipeline from the Geneva football program.

Burly defensive tackle Frank Boenzi, a 2010 Geneva alumnus, has transferred to join the Division II Lakers after spending 2012 with Garden City (Kan.) Community College, where he had 23 tackles, 11/2 sacks and one fumble recovery in 10 games.

The 6-foot-2, 295-pound Boenzi will be reunited with former Vikings running back Michael Ratay and quarterback Brandon Beitzel at Grand Valley.

Boenzi went to community college after NIU dismissed him from the team last summer. He pleaded guilty to attempted possession of marijuana in July 2012.

Boenzi, Ratay and Beitzel all started in Geneva’s Class 7A state championship game against East St. Louis in 2008.

• Kevin Druley is a sportswriter for the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5347 or kdruley@shawmedia.com.

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