By Lydia Smith
The Oxford High School baseball team had its 2020 season cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as did other baseball teams around the world.
The Chargers were 5-5 for the season, with 36 players on the team, yet never got to begin their division play as the world shut down after spring break.
“I was excited for division play this season, we had a big senior group and were in a good place going forward,” said assistant coach Chase Goolsby.
The OHS baseball seniors have continually set the standards for the teams to come behind them, as they are always pushing each other to be better. Whether it was playing ping pong in the locker room, or on the baseball field, Goolsby said the players maintained their focus.
“The kids themselves wanted to be better than the kids in front of them,” Goolsby said.
As social distancing was moving throughout the world, head coach Chris Baughman knew he had to find a way to honor and celebrate his players, and especially the seniors. Baughman began to brainstorm and decided that they would hold a car parade at Edwin Moak Field, the home of the Chargers, on April 20 at 8:20 p.m., as it represented 20:20 in military time.
What began as a celebration for the baseball team, became a class of 2020 sendoff. Coach Goolsby recalls 100 to 200 cars circling Oxford Middle School, decorated in Christmas lights while students and parents stopped to honk and wave at the baseball players. It was obvious the players and students appreciated this kind act, as they had to be asked to leave at 9:15 p.m.
The coaches are continually going the extra mile for their players, as they are also planning to do something else later in the summer to celebrate their time together.
“The players are the sons I never had, and I love seeing them back each year while watching their skill sets develop as they mature,” Goolsby said.
As the seniors on the team unknowingly participated in their last game as Chargers, Goolsby also unknowingly coached his last game. He has been working with the team for 13 years, since spring of 2007, but recently accepted a position with the school as assistant principal.
“It’s a bittersweet ending. I am glad to get the job but I just wish we could have finished out the season,” Goolsby said.
In Goolsby’s 13 years with Oxford High School, the team went from a Class 4A to a 6A team, the highest possible classification in Mississippi. Goolsby watched the team celebrate two-state
championships and describes the experience of seeing the players celebrate on the field from the dugout as one of the most memorable moments as an assistant coach.
Ironically, Goolsby played baseball for Lafayette County High School, which is Oxford’s biggest rival. Goolsby refers to the rivalry as “Not a big deal until we played Lafayette. I’m blue and gold now and Oxford is my school.”
Goolsby decided to pursue an administrative position to make a change for his family, as he has two young daughters growing up, and sometimes coaches must spend more time at school than at home. Oxford High has a rule stating that the administration cannot coach any sporting teams.
“This has been a weird year,” Goolsby said. “I’ve accepted the job but we haven’t been playing baseball, so it has not hit yet.”
Goolsby still plans to be in attendance at Oxford High baseball games in upcoming seasons to support current and future players.
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