'Jacks Share Their SFA Baseball Experiences
Dec. 4, 2006
The Stephen F. Austin baseball team held an awards reception last month and one member from each class stood up to speak about what Lumberjack baseball has meant to them during their time here. The following is the speeches made by senior David Jeans, junior Kevin Croft, sophomore Jared Schrom, and freshman Justin Long.
"Growing up in Center, only thirty minutes away, SFA always seemed like home. I never could figure out why they did not have a legitimate baseball program with all the talent here in East Texas. So out of high school, I played at Texarkana Junior College and about mid-way through my sophomore year, I heard Lumberjack baseball was coming back. I knew right then that that was where I was meant to be. Shortly after, I received a call from Coach Watson and the rest is history.
"The coaching staff we have is the best I have ever seen. They put countless hours in and always seem to have a smile on their faces no matter what they're doing. We are also very fortunate to have a training staff second to none. They are there for our needs 24 hours a day.
"Last year was a learning experience that I think everyone will remember. It was filled with highs and lows that taught us what Division I baseball was really about. I truly believe that this year's team is ready for the challenge and teams in the Southland Conference WILL know when the Lumberjacks are in town. I came up with a few reasons why I am excited about this year's team. They are: playing new teams and traveling to new places, not having to hear (teammate Kyle Freeman's) cell phone ring every five minutes on road trips, watching the Hispanic dancers in (teammate Angel Hernandez') backyard, watching David Miller pitch without his teeth, the new stadium, and last, but not least, seeing the looks on the new guys faces when Coach Watson gives his famous "Insanity" speech.
"Now, I would like to share with you a quote from Nolan Ryan: `One thing I have noticed about baseball is that it brings people together in a community. No matter what walk of life you come from there is something about being with your friends and family on a summer night and watching baseball that everybody loves. The stadium becomes the community's front porch and the people visit with their neighbors and enjoy rooting for their home team.'
"In closing, I would like to thank everyone for coming out and supporting SFA baseball. This fall has been a great success, even though everyone tried to let the purple team win, in every humanly way possible. GO GRAY TEAM!!"
"As we all know, last year was the first time in a number of years that Stephen F. Austin has had a baseball program. Myself and the rest of last year's team knew coming into this that building a top-notch baseball program would not be an easy task. However, we also knew that we would have a chance to make history. We could be the group that laid the groundwork for many successful teams to come. We had very high expectations for our team, some of which were met, and others that would need work, but all in all, it was a tremendous learning experience for us, as well as for the coaching staff.
"This year is a different story. Many of the pieces of the puzzle that were missing last year are starting to come into place as the fall progresses. I believe the biggest part is the new group of guys that have come in this season. We couldn't have asked for a more talented and hard working group of people. They have come in, competed, and helped us gel as a team. Together we have put out a tremendous amount of work over the fall, and believe me, it will be noticed come February.
"Last year, our Achilles' heel was playing nine innings. We just couldn't seem to finish a game. With the depth that we have this year, and the physical improvements that we have made from last [season], we are going to be a force to be reckoned with. That Achilles' heel should be a strength of ours this year as a result of our efforts this fall. We are looking forward to a very productive season, and hope to see everyone at the conference tournament."
"People are probably wondering how a team could possibly bounce back from the type of season we had last year, but I think our fan base is in for a big surprise. This year's team has a completely different attitude and work ethic, and I know it has reflected through our perfornace this fall. If you went to any games last year, then you all well know we had a problem finishing our games. I think our coaches did an outstanding job bringing in some key players that will have a huge impact on helping us finish our games this season. The way these guys have just jumped right into the swing of things with no problem just shows how well we all click as a team. The team chemistry could not be any better despite the fact that we are only a second year program. This team carries themselves as though SFA baseball has been here for generations, and that's how it should be. We have matured so much since last year and are well prepared for this upcoming season.
"I, along with the rest of my teammates, am expecting to have a great 2007 season and am looking forward to going out and displaying how hard we've worked this fall. As a spectator, it is going to be much more enjoyable to watch and will definitely be worth your time. We hope to see everyone out there and thank you for your support."
"Coming to SFA I didn't know what to expect from baseball. The only idea I had of it was from visiting Coach (Chris) Connally and Coach (Johnny) Cardenas when I came down for a visit. I could tell from the way they explained it that they were serious about trying to get this program to the next level. I could also tell that they liked to have fun just from our casual conversations about things that had nothing to do with baseball. Once I got here, I was eager but at the same time nervous about what Coach (Donnie) Watson had in plan for us. The first month of getting up at 6:30 a.m. for strength and conditioning really set our foundation for the fall. It was kind of tough getting up that early, but once we got out there and started our workout, it didn't matter what time it was. The only thing that mattered was it was time to get our work done. Everybody worked hard to improve their strength, speed, and conditioning and it really shows.
"That brings me to another thing; I wasn't really sure how the other guys on the team were going to treat me since I was a new freshman. I thought they might give me the cold shoulder, or maybe they would just try to mess with me all the time. My worries were soon put to rest when I got here because all my teammates are really cool guys and brought me right into their everyday things. It's like I was on the team last year because we are such good friends now.
"This whole fall has been a great success. From what I saw from the beginning of the fall till now, I have seen everybody take steps forward with their game. Every person on the team did their best to improve their game. But, none of us could have moved as far forward without our coaches. They were there for us all fall to help us in whatever aspect of our game we needed help in.
"After all of our hard work and coaches' hard work, I am excited to see us succeed this season like I know we will. I hope everyone else is excited about the season like we are and I look forward to seeing you all in the stands cheering us on."