Andy Verke Jr.
The Texas A&M University-Texarkana baseball team is in its inaugural season and have already set the bar high for years to come. In its first year they have gained national recognition from social media with Kenneth Fudge’s walk off grand slam epic bat flip and against Georgia Gwinnett for having fireworks going off in the middle of game two. In addition to the fame from social media, on March 15, 2016, The 2016 NAIA Baseball Coaches’ Top 25 Poll was released and the TAMUT Eagles Baseball team receiving four votes in the top 25. Now that may not sound like a big deal but for a first year program it shows what they have accomplished.
To put the cherry on top of the season, the TAMUT Baseball Team qualified for the A.I.I. (Association of Independent Institutions) Conference tournament as the #3 seed. Their first game will be on Saturday, May 7th at noon as they take on Edward Waters College (the #6 seed) out of Jacksonville, Florida.
All conference tournament games will be streamed on Grizzly Digital Network. Prices for streaming are $7.95 for a single game or $29.95 for the all tournament pass which includes every game.
There are eight teams in the double elimination tournament and the first, second, and third place teams will receive automatic qualifying bids to the NAIA Baseball Regional Tournament.
Congratulations to the TAMUT Baseball program and continue to make history.
Andy Verke Jr.
5am alarm goes off, you want to hit snooze but you know you can’t because you still need to grab a snack before morning weights at 6. 5:45 am you’re in the gym stretching with the position guys because Coach Jones always says “if you’re not 15 minutes early, you’re late!”. It’s about 7:15 am and while people are starting to wake from their nights sleep you are in the empty cafeteria getting breakfast, showering, and getting ready for day of classes.
From 9-1pm you’re busy with classes and only 15 minutes in between each class to grab a small bite to eat. Class is done for the day but you still have to go back to your dorm room, change then head to the field for early hitting at 1:30.
For the next 3-4 hours you are dialed in on baseball and paying attention to the details. During those 3-4 hours you will have a bunt scrimmage, situational hitting scrimmage, batting practice, and conditioning. Star drills… The consequence of not paying attention to detail. So what is a star drill? It is when you start at home plate and run to the center field wall, back to home plate, down the right field line to the foul pole, across the outfield to the left field foul pole, and finally back to home in two minutes and 20 seconds or less.
It’s approximately 5:30pm and you are finally done with practice and have to head back to the dorms to get dinner, shower, and gather your things to go to the library. After your dinner you head to the library to study for test, do your homework, and complete any projects you have. It’s 11pm and the library is closing but you still have to finish some of your homework, so you go to the study room in the dorms and complete your homework for the night.
By the time you get done with your homework it’s 12:30 and you have to be up in four and a half hours to do it all again.
It takes a lot of discipline and sacrifice, but I wouldn’t change a thing.
Tennis is a sport that I never thought I would play. From the time I can remember up until the day I stepped foot on the tennis court I would judge people that played tennis. “Tennis is lame…Tennis is not a real sport,” are things that I would usually say to people that played tennis or anytime tennis was brought up in a conversation that involved me. With that being said you are not going to believe what I am going to say next. I love tennis and it is my life now! Sit back and listen to my adventurous relationship I have developed with tennis.
It was Christmas break of my junior year, I went out-of-town to visit family and found myself playing a lot of video games with my cousins. It doesn’t matter what I am doing if it involves something of a competitive sort I am going to fight and try to win. My younger cousin figured since I always spoke so poorly of tennis that it would be a great opportunity to beat me in a Wii sports game of tennis. My first reaction was no I will not play this game. I am not a wuss. That didn’t work, my cousin knew exactly how to get back at me which was to say that I was afraid to lose, which I wasn’t, cause I felt that tennis wasn’t a real sport therefore the challenge was not hard at all. I finally gave in and we began to play the game. Instantly I began to sweat from the excessive cardio workout that was provided from the game. Honestly I started off a little shaky due to be being uncomfortable with the sport, but I managed to get it together because of my competitive instincts. I remember the most important thing that has changed my prospective on the game of tennis until this day, which was “tennis is a lot harder than it looks.” This statement was the start of a relationship I will not be willing to give up on now. Who would have ever thought those words would come out my mouth after that negativity I have thrown at the game. I did in fact beat my cousin in the game which has helped me become who I am today which I will get into later.
Christmas break was over and I was back at home for school. I just started off-season for football and began the season for basketball. Two sports that I can truly say that I am decent in and will compete to my fullest potential every time I get a chance. Such a powerful statement that had no meaning after I did what I am about to tell you. One day after school before my basketball game I went out to the tennis courts to watch a home match. Yes, I knew very shocking to see myself at a tennis match, but the replay of tennis match I played on the Wii was running through my mind and I wanted to see how hard this sport really was in real life. As soon as I got out to the courts I was in awe because it was in deed harder than I imagined. I immediately wanted to try it for myself, so I did what I figured was safe and talked to the coach. His response to my little story was if you are serious I can turn you into something special quickly with this sport. I went to my game, and all night I thought about what he told me. The very next day at school I decided to take coach Mihok up on his offer and joined the tennis team because I figured that if this is a challenging sport then I must try to figure it out.
Now I will fast forward to the inspirational point of this relationship with tennis. Since I started, I have achieved many things in this sport. My senior year of high school I was first team all-district, district champs, and a regional qualifier. I also played some of the United States Tennis Association tournaments and received the upper level status of Champ level players. Throughout the summer going to my senior I played tennis every day and trained harder than you could imagine. I decided to quit football and basketball for tennis because I enjoyed the game a lot more, and I just had passion for the game at this point in my life. Halfway through my senior year my coach called me with some shocking news. He told me that he spoke with a few of his tennis buddies that coach on the college level and told me that he would be able to get me a spot on a college team if I trained hard every day for it. What did I do from here? you guessed right, I trained every single day regardless of the weather to assure myself that I was going to be ready to compete at the next level.
Which brings us to the current day. Here I am a sophomore in college and on a tennis scholarship to play collegiate tennis. I never would have thought that I would be this far in life with the game of tennis due to be starting so late, but that just goes to show you that if you set goals for yourself and work hard to achieve those goals in every aspect of your life, there are no limits, and you can be anything in this world you want to be, as long as you are feeding yourself positive energy and finding a true relationship with whatever it is you are trying to achieve. Honestly I never would have imagine that I would be in the position I am in today playing college tennis but it all started that day I challenged myself when playing against my cousin. I love tennis it is my life and my passion and I am proud to say that!