May 15, 2003
I can't believe that I just typed that date. My parents always said that the older you get, the faster time goes. As usual they were right. Each year, I look at the calendar and the season's schedule, and think about how long it is to the end. Each year there are different, yet similar, hopes and dreams for all of our kids.
The beauty of dealing with young people is that so much of their lives are yet to be lived. I told one player yesterday that he and his teammates are closer to ten than they are to thirty. (Well, many of them, but I think he got the point) Old guys like me have chased their dreams for years. These kids are just getting started.
So the last weekend of the regular season will bring many things to the players, parents, coaches, and fans of this team. It signals the end of our long journey in pursuit of an A-Sun Conference title. We need to beat Stetson one time and the championship is in our sole possession. This is not an easy task. Stetson is a very talented ballclub that struggled early, but is on a roll and playing their best. Their NCAA Tournament hopes have risen in the past few weeks, but I know that this weekend can go a long way toward solidifying their position for an at-large bid. Should they sweep us, they would be co-champions and seeded first in the upcoming A-Sun Tournament.
Our team is nicely positioned for another at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. The weekend and the Conference Tournament offer us the opportunity to try and secure a number one seed in a Regional. That is the goal toward which we have been working the last few weeks. Stetson is the next checkpoint on that journey.
It will be the last appearance on our field for our eight seniors. As with many programs in college baseball, these players arrived here from different directions. We have a fifth year senior and two others who came here directly from high school, three who arrived after playing in junior college, and two that transferred from other four year schools.
It is an interesting mix of kids who represent different geographical and socioeconomic backgrounds. From the ocean breezes of Jupiter, Florida, to the western ways of Houston, Texas, they came. The hip-hop urban streets of Ft. Lauderdale and Deerfield, to the laid back, sun splashed lifestyle of Sarasota, the wheat fields of Nebraska and the wilds of western Arkansas, are all represented here. It is a group of young men I am glad to have coached. They have won a lot of games, for which their coaches get too much credit. They have suffered through some disappointments, and celebrated great victories. They have ridden busses and planes, and eaten a few too many Continental Breakfasts and bologna sandwiches. They have all left their mark on us.
We have the chance to be part of a very special season. This fact has been talked about since the beginning of the school year. It is a season that posed some interesting challenges, all of which have been answered positively. We broke in a new pitching coach, and our staff is among the best in the nation, our hitting coach is new and we lead the conference in most offensive categories, our third base coach is a rookie and he has done a great job. Our players handled those changes with the spirit and effort that should be applauded. Our talented juniors have handled the draft situation very well. Lastly, our key newcomers have fit in and performed great.
The remaining challenge is to complete the job. This is a season that can be summed up in the word consistency. Our kids have been resolute about taking each series as it has come, and the results have been great. We need to continue on that path.
Our post season starts Friday night. All the hours in the weight room and the study halls, sweating on the B Field and in the cages, typing papers and taking exams, having to shave and behave in hotels, riding on a bus with twenty five guys for hours after eating barbeque! These are the prices you pay. The reward is directly ahead of us, and you all know what it is. Nobody gives you anything in this life...you have to go out and take it. That's what this weekend, and the rest of the season is about! KC