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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
TARPON SPRINGS - Building team unity can be done in many ways. Rarely does it involve a piece of PVC pipe.
Puttering along at 7-11, coach Dan Genna and his staff concocted an exercise to force the Spongers to work together. Genna had the team tote a 20-foot piece of pipe around the baseball field for an hour, saying the Spongers "lacked an identity." He hoped they would find it on their journey.
"We watched them argue for a bit and they struggled for a while, " Genna said. "Then after about 15 minutes, they figured out the best way to do it and that it took all 20 guys to make it happen."
The Spongers staggered themselves 10 to a side, with the bigger guys in the middle. Each time they passed home plate, they yelled "team" in unison.
Genna dubbed the exercise "the Elephant March" and it proved as effective as it was unorthodox. The Spongers have won 8 of 9 since and meet Middleton tonight.
"If they want to get to the next level, " Genna said, "we'll need all 20 guys - just like in the Elephant March.'