is in his 19th season as head coach at Florida Atlantic University, where
he has compiled a record of 650-403-4. Overall, he has a record of 790-453-9 - a
.631 winning percentage - in 22 years. FAU has reached the NCAA regionals seven
times under Cooney, including each of the past four seasons. This is the third year
Cooney has offered his
thoughts on baseball - and other things - for CollegeBaseballInsider.com.
April 12, 2006
Trying to Rise Above
The Easter season is meant to remind us that we have been
given the ability to rise again from the fate to which our lives lead us. We
know all too well how our lives will end, but we have been promised hope beyond
that final inning.
I think that the Easter promise holds out a more immediate
hope for all of us. If we can rise from death, perhaps we can all find it within
ourselves to rise above the hand our lives have dealt us. For many in the world,
the daily struggle of life has serious and often tragic overtones. We’re
focusing here on college baseball, so the stakes are not quite so high, but they
seem to hold serious significance for those who measure their current lives by
the daily successes and failures on the field.
Before our third game against VCU this weekend, I reminded
our players that though the song goes, “Man’s
learn to live with what he can’t rise above,” we don’t have to settle for the
lives we face. We need to move beyond accepting the plight of our lives and
carve out a better situation for ourselves.
In the case of FAU baseball, I was referring to the loss of
five of our top offensive players this season. We can continue to plod along at
a .500 pace and take false comfort in the knowledge that we are doing our best
under the circumstances, or we can rise above the losses and write a new ending
to a story that seems to have already been scripted.
The challenge Sunday was to win the last game and take our
second consecutive series. We’ve got six more weeks - all in conference - so
setting a tone of a series win each week, will enable us to qualify for our
conference tournament. Then it will take a solid week of good play to get us
into another NCAA regional; a lofty goal for a team with a 5-7 conference
Three examples of people who rose above the difficult
challenges their lives offered were given to our guys as examples. Two stories
were from the bible, and one was from Scranton, Pa.
My father would have been surprised to see himself in the
same metaphor as Abraham and Jesus, but I think his life was another good
example of what I wanted our kids to understand.
Born in 1908, my Dad had to leave school in eighth grade
when his stepfather died. He went to work supporting his mother and his six half
brothers and sisters. When he was about the age of our players, my Dad
discovered that the circumstances of his birth didn’t quite fit the accepted
standards of the early 20th century.
He left home and went to work in Detroit for the C.C.C.,
which provided jobs for young men during the depression. Whether he left due to
a sense of anger or shame, or because it was the best way to support his family,
I don’t know. He later served in WW II and lovingly raised a family in N.J. This
family history was hidden his entire life, but he dealt with it in his own quiet
My father was a regular guy with a good sense of humor and
a less than flattering habit of profanity. He taught his sons the value of hard
work, and was our scoutmaster in Boy Scouts. He worked overtime each week
driving a bus in Newark, and made $10,000 in his best, and last, year of work.
He never, ever, complained about his life.
He rose above it.
We had lost a heartbreaker Friday night to a real good VCU
pitcher 3-1. Mickey Storey pitched great, but when you’re the Friday night guy,
you’re always locked up with the other team’s ace. Runs are hard to come by for
us this year. They’re even harder to get on Fridays.
Saturday saw Chris
combined to hold VCU to four runs while our guys put together a few good
offensive innings, and we won 7-4. Our defense did a good job in the game
turning two key double plays, and getting two big outs at the plate in the same
Albano and Tyler Stevens both had
good days at the plate to lead our hitters.
After Sunday’s pre-game speech and before the first pitch,
we had a four-hour rain delay. The tarp was rolled out as a storm rolled in. We
avoided the hail that fell north of us, but there was a lot of wind and rain.
When we finally started the game, I asked Storey if I needed to repeat my
He said, “What speech?”
Brandon Cooney was on the mound. Maybe he is a distant
relative of my Dad. His father is from the same area of Pennsylvania, but
Brandon is about a foot taller than me and throws about 20 mph harder than I did
on my best day. The big guy was on top of his game, striking out two batters in
each of the first five innings.
The bottom of our batting order provided the offense
Ozga knocked in the first run, and Danny Cook
followed with a two-out double that scored Travis from first. That was all we’d
need, though Cook added another run later with his second double of the day.
Cooney gave up his only hit in the fifth, and the lightning
and rain returned as we came in for our half of the sixth inning. The lightning
prevented us from putting out the field tarp, and the hard rain made the field
unplayable, which brought a long day to a happy end 3-0.
We have the week off to prepare for a weekend series at
Gardner-Webb. We’re sitting near the bottom of the A-SUN standings, but with six
weekends to play we have the chance we need to rise above what’s happened and
write the ending to this season’s story.
Turnpike Tussle (4/6/06)
Crimson and Camels (4/4/06)
Everyone Wants to be the Man at the Top (3/28/06)
A Great Day for the Irish (3/22/06)
Renewing a Friendly Rivalry (3/17/06)
A Few Good Men (3/14/06)
Songs about Texas (3/7/06)
Regression, Depression, Confession (2/27/06)
Cardinals, Owls and Captain Albano (2/20/06)
The Salukis and No. 98 (2/13/06)
The Adkins Diet and a Sunday Split (2/7/06)
Here we go again (2/2/06)
Holy Innocents (12/28/05)
When You're Alone (10/11/05)
Another Beginning, a New Beginning, Never Forgetting (9/12/05)
Deja vu all over again (9/1/05)
(photo courtesy of FAU Media Relations Office)