June 22, 2014
CWS Press Conference | Press Conference Photos | Practice Photos
What it's all about.
Throw away the litigation and controversies, this CWS is what is good about college athletics.
A man coming home to play in his sport's pinnacle story. That's what is happening with Brian O'Connor, the head coach of Virginia who spent his youth at old Rosenblatt watching collegiate greats of the past compete for titles in his hometown of Omaha. He mentions that he did not have Major League games to go to growing up - it was the College World Series and the young men in the colorful uniforms that he looked up to and admired.
That's a great story.
On the other side of the diamond, head coach Tim Corbin has his Vanderbilt squad, the smallest university in the Southeastern Conference by 10,000 undergraduates, two games away from a national championship. A boy from small-town New Hampshire continues his ascent as one of college athletics most elite coaches in any sport.
That's also a great story.
But, in the days of litigation, pay-for-play, video-game likenesses, and every other thing that people claim is wrong with college athletics, the press conference Sunday morning at TD Ameritrade is what is good about sports and its place on college campuses. It's about overcoming adversity, treating others with respect, staying in the present and the moment, and growing boys into men who become great dads, great members of society, and just good humans. Omaha is a place to celebrate collegiate baseball, but today's gathering of players and coaches reminded us that this is only PART of being great. Or maybe more importantly, winning habits that are established off the field can really lead to success between the lines. That positive ideas and words towards and about one another are rewarded.
It was reiterated today that baseball is just a way to teach life lessons, lessons that we all learn, overcome, and celebrate in our own lives - whether we can track down rocket fly balls to right center like Rhett Wiseman miraculously did on Saturday night in the dark Omaha night or sit behind a desk all day long in a downtown office building. Good results can happen through positive processes.
And good mentors teach these processes, and these two coaches are two of the best. They are like fathers to their 30 or so players on their roster, and they speak like fathers. They also speak like those teachers that you always remember - the ones who care about you and the ones you send high school graduation notices to because you want them there to experience the awesomeness of life with you.
"I love coaching at a great academic institution," said O'Connor. "The young men we are responsible for I believe are at both universities for more than just great baseball and for winning championships, they are there to get a great education at great schools, they are there to learn to grow up and become men and become the best baseball players they can be. I think there is a lot of similarities between the two programs - you can have a top-notch baseball program and not have to sacrifice anything."
So in a sporting world with so many negatives, take some time to celebrate the positives. Take the time to appreciate that there are positive people with athletic gifts in this world that can influence and inspire our men and women of today and tomorrow. That those men that take the field on Monday in those bright, multicolored uniforms value their journey just as much as they do the result.
"We cheat because we get good kids because of the university system," said Corbin. "That's a nice thing. We're both fortunate that we can be in that environment. Outside of a mistake here and there, you don't sleep with one eye open. You basically know what your kids are doing. I think we're put in this position to be parents of other people's kids for a certain amount of time. Kids make mistakes. You're there to stand them back up again, wipe them off, and get them back out there. That's all about parenting and coaching."