Ruairi O'Connor is a senior outfielder at Florida State University. A native of River Forest, Ill., O'Connor is a team captain this season for the Seminoles. He appeared in 33 games a season ago with seven starts. O'Connor batted .300 with three doubles, two homers, 19 runs and eight RBI. He batted .296 in 2007 after missing all but two games in 2006 following surgery for a fractured wrist. Both of his parents attended Florida State. O'Connor has made ACC Academic Honor Roll each of the past two years. O'Connor is majoring in literature.



March 4, 2009

The Onset of Nostalgia


The last opening weekend of my college career, a four-game set against the Pride of Hofstra. As the first pitch of the 2009 season creeps exponentially closer, it is important to understand how 32 individuals transform into one family in six short months. Prior to the bright lights of Opening Day and the anticipation of fulfilling lofty goals, there have been hundreds of hours logged in at practice, the weight room and in the classroom as well as the real work preparing for class. 


In sharp contrast to the average person’s idea of the college athlete, we are like every one of the 40,000 students at Florida State University struggling to keep our heads above water. With fall-ball and the freedoms of winter break a distant memory, it’s hard to escape the mundane routine of spring practice. 


Day after day, six days a week, we are grinding it out in anticipation for another run at Omaha. Individuals, groundballs, scrimmage are the three words every Florida State baseball player longs to hear following our exorbitantly long stretch. Despite our longing, those words are all too often coupled with extra drills that can push practice well into the evening. 


Any day after practice, there is only one thing that everyone in the clubhouse wants to do… and it’s not going home and getting ahead in the classroom (sorry, Mom). For hours after practice as we disregard the prodding of our equipment managers, nothing has the ability to rejuvenate the mind, body and soul like a game of cards. The desire to play cards when opportunity presents itself is something possessed by nearly every collegiate baseball player across America. Whether it is pluck, spades, knock or 13, the amount of time spent playing cards in the locker room nearly matches the time put in the field. To some, the time spent on the card table could be seen as a waste of valuable time. However, it is this time when the bonds of teammates solidify into the bonds of friendship and family.        


As a fifth-year senior member of the team, I have gone through a huge transformation from a 17-year old freshman to the team grandfather. As a senior captain, it is my job to impart the knowledge that I have accumulated over the 200-plus games I have spent as a Seminole. It is important to me to instill the discipline and the work ethic that it takes to be successful as a student, an athlete and a person at this level. 


As I begin my fifth and final season, teammates, coaches and the many venues begin to blend together. What lasts is the camaraderie that was built through hard work and our shared experience to succeed together. It’s the relationship with the guy in the locker next to me that makes the 0-for-4 performance at the plate less hard to swallow and the 4-for-4 performance a lot more humbling. The closer Opening Day gets, the nerves and anxieties are short-lived as they give way to the excitement of a future with unlimited successes.


Ruairi O'Connor

(photo courtesy of FSU Media Relations Office)