It’s been a long strange ride so far in this 2011-2012 season for us here at SeattleU. We’ve had more heartache and sadness than our young men deserve, but through it all they have kept moving forward. Sometimes slow, but always moving forward. We have had joy and excitement as well, and our program is clearly on the rise because of those moments, but there is no doubt that this year will be ring in our minds for the entirety of our lives.
We lost a brother, a son, and a teammate this fall. One of our senior captains and our closer was lost in a car accident . He was 22 years old. When people pass, people inevitably talk about what a wonderful person the deceased was, and how sweet and happy they were to everyone. Sometimes it’s true, or at least a facet of that person’s life, but with Cam it could not have been MORE true. He was a leader without trying. People, especially those younger, were drawn to him, as if by magnetism. Armed with one of those smiles that forces your own mouth to curl in response, Cam went merrily along, charming the pants off just about everyone he encountered. A tireless worker who had just really come into his own after a couple of injuries early in his career, Cam was poised to finally have some of the college success forecasted for him after a standout high school career. To me, though, all of that is far secondary to the simple beauty of the response he inspired in his teammates. After seeing the overflow crowd at Cam’s memorial service (thousands), one of our more talented, but wayward young men said to us that hearing people talk about Cam made him realize that he needed to become a better person. He now wanted to start making a positive impact on other people. He said he couldn’t believe how many people were truly affected for the better by Cam and he knew he wasn’t doing enough himself to make that kind of imprint. Powerful stuff from a 20-year old. That’s the impact Cam’s death had on all of us. We will never forget. *For those that see us play this year, we will be wearing a 21 emblazoned on our hats in his memory*
On the field, our program is at a very interesting point in our trajectory. We are entering year 3 back from a 29-year hiatus, and we finally have some true seniors – kids who have been in our organization for a full career. We have three young men who spent a year red-shirting the first year of creation, and now will be playing for their third season. We also have a crop of juniors who have spent the last two years playing full-time, which gives us a core of experience and hopefully that will pay dividends for us as go through this season. It is exciting to see the growth of this group of players as they adjust to the competitive nature of Division I baseball. The arc of development for young baseball players is fascinating, but unpredictable. I see the poise and confidence in these guys that was not there as strongly the past two years. What that brings is only a guess but I do know that they BELIEVE they are going to be great this year.
As the days count down to first pitch of 2012, coaches and players from every program in the country are bursting with anticipation and nervous energy. Fans are getting primed for the rush ahead as well. Where it will all lead and who will emerge in Omaha is what makes college baseball such a phenomenal spectacle.