Kevin Cooney is in his 18th season as head coach at Florida Atlantic
University of the Atlantic Sun Conference and 22nd overall. A former pitching
star at Montclair State, Cooney has led FAU to an average of 46 wins per season
the past six years. He as guided the Blue Wave to a 273-106 record and five NCAA
Regionals in the past six years. This is the second year he has offered his thoughts on
baseball - and other things - for CollegeBaseballInsider.com.
April 6, 2005
Good Things Come to Him Who
Players come into college baseball programs with one main goal - they want to
Few are content to just sit on the bench and watch their teammates get all
the fun of being in the games. Freshmen are usually warned that their chances of
immediately playing might be slim, but are always encouraged to hang in there
and keep working hard, their time will come.
But things are a bit different for transfer students. Whether from a junior
college or a four-year school, transfers are usually in their third or fourth
years, and the clock is ticking. They have a greater sense of urgency than the
fresh-faced kid who just arrived on campus from high school.
A four-year school transfer generally leaves one program for another in the
hope of increased playing time. Sure, sometimes the kid wants to be closer to
home, or some other story, but most times it’s the chance to play that drives
College baseball has a different transfer rule than football and basketball.
In those sports, the player must sit out one season after transferring. College
baseball allows the player to immediately compete as long as the initial school
Bobby DiLoberto transferred to Florida Atlantic from LSU this fall. I
remember seeing Bobby in a dugout shot at the College World Series last June. So
powerful is the pull for a player to be in the lineup that a kid would choose to
leave a program of that stature, with all the perks it has to offer.
Things didn’t go great for Bobby here at FAU. The competition for a starting
job was strong, and he struggled in the fall. Then Bobby badly sprained his
ankle in the spring, at a time that our lineup desperately cried out for another
DiLoberto’s ankle healed at a time that some players were absent from the
lineup for discipline. He was asked to play second base against Harvard
Wednesday night, despite not having practiced there all year. Bobby was right in
the middle of our first-inning rally with a big double to get us off to a
winning start. He had a good weekend in our lost cause at JU, including a home
Tyler Stevens started last year as a freshman at Elon University. He felt the
need to be back home and chose to transfer here over the summer. After being an
everyday starter for Elon, Tyler encountered a tough situation here at FAU.
There was no open position in our infield, and it was a very tough adjustment
for him in the fall. At one point, Tyler considered quitting, but decided o stay
with it and wait for his chance.
Last weekend against Stetson, Tyler got a start at third and played real
well. He entered the third game near the end and had a big hit in our rally that
came up short. Tyler had three hits and an RBI against JU, while making some
good plays in the field.
As a coach, I try to give my veteran players the benefit of he doubt when
they struggle. A veteran should get more opportunities than perhaps seems fair,
but, in my mind, that privilege has been earned.
The player waiting for his name to be called has a tough job. Coaches are
always telling them to work hard and be ready. Then the chance comes, and the
player feels the pressure of having to successfully perform off the bench
despite not having played much to that point. It’s not easy. Tyler and Bobby
have waited for their chance and seem to be making the most of it.
A Long Ride Home (4/3/05)
The Working Life (3/31/05)
A Good Friday (3/28/05)
St. Patrick's Day on Wheels (3/18/05)
Beware the Ides of March (3/16/05)
Conference Sweep (3/13/05)
Madness and Soaring Eagles (3/11/05)
Viva Las Vegas (3/8/05)
The Rocket, and a Black and Blue Big Ten Weekend (3/1/05)
So You Wanted to Coach (2/21/05)
Mickey was the Story (2/15/05)
The Rocket's Red Glare (2/11/05)
It's a Dog's Life (2/3/05)
'You've Got to Learn to Live with What You Can't Rise Above' (1/31/05)
25 Years of FAU Baseball (1/16/05)
So this is Christmas (12/24/04)
The Graduate (12/8/04)
Thanksgiving in Palm Beach County (11/25/04)
An Empty Seat (11/10/04)
Fall is in the Air (10/21/04)
Hurricane Carmen (9/24/04)
(photo courtesy of FAU Media Relations Office)