In the Spring of 2013, Beau Parker, like many students, was in right field watching Ole Miss baseball with his friends. One play then sparked a conversation about the glory days of Parker and his group’s past playing high school baseball.
“The 3rd baseman made a really good play down the line, and one of my buddies goes ‘ I could’ve made that play’ of course he couldn’t, but it just started a conversation about back when we played high school ball and what we missed about it.” Parker, founder and outgoing president, said.
That conversation led to research into the NCBA, and after filling out some paperwork and holding an open tryout, the Ole Miss Club baseball team began. Since then the team has competed against teams from around the region including the five teams in their division; Kennesaw State, Georgia Tech, Tennessee-Chattanooga and Vanderbilt. The group has struck a balance between having fun but remembering that they are out there to compete.
“One the one hand it is for fun, no one is going pro or getting scholarship offers, but on the other hand, it is more competitive than intramurals. We are competing with other schools, and its all about finding the right guys with the right mindset for what we’re doing.”
Freshman Dawson Cook came to Ole Miss looking for something to fill the void that high school baseball left, and when he discovered the club baseball, he knew it was a perfect fit.
Right after high school, I just wanted to keep playing because I love the sport so much. I wasn’t good enough to play at the next level, but I wanted to keep going, so club baseball is really the perfect fit for me,” Cook said. “It’s fun, and it’s competitive.”
The team practices at the fields next to the Oxford Humane Society, and players their games at Lafayette High School. Traveling to away games consists of carpooling among teammates, money is raised to pay for equipment, and dues are collected from each player in addition to money allowed from the University. With practices four times a week and games throughout the fall and spring, it’s a commitment the players take seriously. In Parker’s eyes, it’s worth it when you’re passionate about something.
“You do it because you like it, its a sense of community, it’s what you’re interested in and what you’re passionate about,” Parker said. “We’ve got guys that are in fraternities, we’ve got 4.0 students, engineering students, and more so it shows that club sports don’t have to be instead of other things, it can be complimentary.”
That sense of community has made an impact on players, and Parker has enjoyed watching the bond that teammates have formed over the past few years.
“We’ve had people who maybe weren’t going to stay at Ole Miss, but then when they discovered this team and decided to stay after this organization gave them a home away from home and being someone who started this, that’s really cool to see,” Parker said.
While the team won’t qualify for their conference tournament this year, Parker, the only graduating senior, is proud to leave his team having made important strides in such a short amount of time.
“It’s been a drastic improvement and with me begin the only graduating senior, I think this will be a team that will be really good in the next few years,” Parker said. “I’m really excited to see where they go and they promised me that when they win a championship, they’ll send me a ring.”
Cook will take over as team president next season, and he hopes to continue the growth of the organization for years to come.
“Beau has done a great job of building this program up, and I hope that I can continue to build off of what he’s done,” Cook said.
Steven Gagliano is a writer for HottyToddy.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Adam Brown is the sports editor for HottyToddy.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.