Madisonville, Tenn. (WVLT) - The term “overcoming adversity” has almost become commonplace in the sports world, the Hiwasee college baseball team has certainly faced their share of adversity this season.
Hiwassee College has closed but the season continues for the Hiwassee Tigers baseball team. Source: WVLT
“We got to about mid-season and had some injuries, we had starters miss about sixty percent of the games so some of our younger guys had to step up” said coach Shane Gardner
If injuries were the only challenge facing the Tigers this season they would have been grateful, but news came late in their season that the college would be permanently closing during the regular season.
“It was devastating those first couple days trying to figure out what happened” Gardner said.
“I don’t know what to say, I don’t have the words to encourage them. You know if it’s an error on the baseball field you say it’s OK you got another one. Here it’s I don’t know what’s next I don’t know what to tell you.” said Hiwassee senior Cameron Alday.
News like that tends to either break a team down or solidify their bond.
Gardner said the team faced the news head on. “We met as a team the day we got the news and made a commitment to each other that we were going to finish the season strong.”
“We have a character that has been tested and tried and so far has shown through, we don’t quit we just play for each other and it brought us closer together in the end” Alday said.
Forged by their commitment to each other, this team that has been to the NCCAA World Series the last three years remained focused on the task at hand.
“The guys have really gotten after it and the goal hasn’t changed, the goal is to go up there and compete and win a national championship.”
“It would show that all the hard work that we have done meant something and it doesn’t go unnoticed the fall practices and the summer, everythinig that everyone has does to this point meant something.”
While a tournament championship remains the goal, it’s not what these Tigers want to be remembered for as they write the final chapter in Hiwasee baseball history.
“We didn’t give up, that’s the biggest thing, we stayed true to each other and fought. We didn’t give up, even when everything was crashing down.” Alday said.
Coach Gardner hopes the programs legacy is remembered for more than just baseball. “This program is special, we’ve got a lot of guys that came through here that turned into great husbands and fathers, great workers in their communities. So that’s what I want everyone to remember we did things right on the field and we did things right off the field and I couldn’t be prouder of them.”
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