Diamond Diary by Kevin Cooney



Jan. 12, 2004

Thirty years!!! When my Dad retired from driving a bus in Newark, NJ he had worked thirty years for the company.

At the time I thought that thirty years was an awful long time to be doing the same job. Now here I am facing my thirtieth year as a baseball coach. That is a very long time to be doing the same work, although it has not always been exactly the same.

My first year coaching was as an assistant at Montclair State for the grand sum of $000. My head coach did slip me $100 he received from a travel reimbursement, so I technically did get paid. The next year I challenged my accountant and jumped to $200 in salary. Those were the days.

Seven years of high school teaching and coaching followed, until I got lucky and was offered the head coaching position at Montclair. After four years at MSC with some great players and coaches, Steve Traylor left FAU for Duke. As the former Director of Athletics liked to tell the story..." FAU did a national search...six coaches applied...five turned it down...so we hired Cooney."

That may be close to the truth, but again, thanks to some great players and coaches, I was able to haul my sorry butt out to practice this weekend and kick off the 2004 season. I'm still employed after all these years...what a country! I even poked my nose into a session with the catchers and George about our new signs and noticed a flaw in the system. Orton congratulated me on showing them I am not as old as it seems.

This should be another great year. The returning cast of characters features some talented pitchers, good hitters, and winning attitudes. Coach Mac has restocked the cupboard with new faces that will jump in and try to keep FAU at the level that has been reached over the last few years.

It's not often that a team's three best players are also three real leaders. This year we are blessed with the trio of Brown, Beam, and Fiorentino. They could be three of the best players on anyone's team, but their value runs deeper. The work ethic and competitiveness that these three display is beyond reproach. For that reason they have been designated as captains for Florida Atlantic in 2004.

Our schedule looks good with a big tournament in February in which all four teams are ranked by Collegiate Baseball, a tough Florida A&M squad that will again challenge Bethune-Cookman for the MEAC championship, George Washington has their best team in years, and Southern Illinois is always tough. February also revisits our four game series with FIU. We all remember how last year went. Rutgers and Ohio State will have great teams to challenge us in March, as we begin A-Sun play.

The Atlantic Sun Conference will have another solid group of teams. I expect Gardner-Webb and Belmont to continue their improvement and be in the hunt all year. Jacksonville has some real good players returning and should be even tougher. Stetson believes they have a great crop of new players to add to Westervelt, Zenczyk, and the rest of the veterans. UCF had some real good young players in their first down season in years, so I expect they will have supplemented them with players capable of getting them back to the top. I don't know much about Campbell and Georgia State but I know their coaches will have good teams again. Troy has a ton of new players, so they will be a mystery until we get going. Mercer has a new coaching staff and will be starting the journey back to the conference tournament. Lipscomb is a complete unknown. I know that they had a good team last year, and that's about all.

So here we go again!

Lots of things to talk about this year, lots of new heroes to be made. Thirty years...KC

PS: If you like reading and participating on message boards, there are at least two out there. Go to sebaseball.com. Click on MESSAGE BOARDS... click on sebaseball and then UCF. This gets you to the UCF site. Click on forum and then Atlantic Sun. This board has some real heavy baseball traffic. Unfortunately there is only one FAU fan. "Burrowing Owl" does a great job for all FAU sports, but especially baseball. Join him if you like.

There is another site at fausports.proboards25.com. This is an FAU board for several sports. So any of you internet sports junkies...get on there and talk up your team. (Or bash the coach, if necessary)


 

 

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