Cooney has spent 20 seasons as head coach at Florida Atlantic University. He has
compiled more than 700 victories with the Owls and more than 850 wins in his
24-year career as a head coach. Cooney has
spent the past five seasons offering his thoughts on baseball - and other
things - for CollegeBaseballInsider.com. Cooney's Owls finished their first
season in the Sun Belt Conference at 36-22 in 2007.
March 31, 2008
You Think You've Got Problems?
It seems to be human nature for people to get so
wrapped up in our daily existence that we assume our struggles
and problems are the worst things happening in the world.
I believe that is particularly true for those of
us who compete in athletics for a living, and in the minds of
the young men on our teams. Every loss, failure, or major
inconvenience gets magnified when viewed through the prism of a
Our trip to Monroe, Louisiana, has been a perfect
Sitting here at the Monroe Airport awaiting the
Monday morning sunrise, our players are dealing with the
hangover of a rough weekend. A conference series that held such
promise when we left Boca Thursday has turned into a competitive
and travel nightmare.
ULM and FAU squared off on Friday night with
first place at stake. When the dust settled in the rain of
Sunday afternoon, the Warhawks had completed a big series sweep
and we were just looking to get out of Dodge.
There was no solace in the first two games having
been solid one-run affairs; the 13-4 thumping on Sunday took
care of that. Guys showered silently, grabbed some food from the
generous fans in The Left Field Lounge and headed for the bus.
We arrived at the airport to learn our flight had
been cancelled because of weather problems in Houston. We
flagged down our bus driver, re-boarded and headed back to the
hotel, prepared to spend another night in Monroe.
A 3:30 a.m. wake-up call got everyone down to the
bus in order to make our 5:30 a.m. flight to Houston. The only
problem was that we were not actually booked on that flight as
told the night before. Half of us were on the 7:00 p.m. flight.
After some early morning haggling, all but five
of us got on the morning flight with the rest to follow at 9
a.m. Of course that flight is now delayed until 10:30 a.m. One
more delay and we will probably miss our connecting flight to
As one of the lucky five left behind, I am
looking for some perspective to our lost weekend, and I know
just where to find it.
As I switched off the light in my room Saturday
night and prepared for a fitful, frustrating night sleep, I
heard the sound of laughter and running in the hall outside my
Great...we just lost 3-2 and someone is about to
set me off on a tirade. I opened the door to an empty hall, but
grabbed a room list to see whose rooms were near mine. I was
sure our freshmen were about to get a lesson on road-trip
conduct, when Mike McKenna and Mickey Storey burst from the
stairwell and sprinted my way.
Great...two seniors were the culprits.
Mike told me that someone had been beaten up on
their floor and was chasing them. The look on his face validated
his story, and I was relieved to learn it wasn’t one of our
players. Mickey had heard a commotion down the hall and had
summoned McKenna. A man brushed past them and down the stairs,
followed moments later by the woman he had beaten in an
argument. She was under the influence of alcohol and whatever,
and chased after the two startled players.
We called the front desk and McKenna and Storey
led me to the stairwell where the woman lay, screaming and
crying incoherently. I knelt down and tried my best to console
and restrain her until help arrived. She was a mess. Her face
was swollen, she stunk of alcohol, and kept trying to get up to
leave. She was in no shape to go anywhere. A hotel employee
brought the pillow from her room as I tried to convince her to
lie down. The pillow was splattered with blood.
The best I could understand, she was a nurse and
was insistent there be no police, despite the curses she was
spewing towards her assailant. She couldn’t have him go to jail
I asked if she had any family and she cried about
her 12-year-old disabled son who lived with a friend. She and
the boy had been separated after the hurricane, and she missed
I held her shoulders and stroked her hair trying
to calm her until the EMT and police could take over. She was
sobbing and wailing, rarely coherent enough for me to understand
her. Several times she stopped sobbing, pulled me close to her
asked me, “Why do you care?”
The police arrived and took control of the
stairwell. Walking out of her room, one of them showed me a
nearly-empty bottle of Xanax that had been filled two days ago.
That may have explained her condition.
Returning to my room and lying in the dark, I
thought of the woman and her question, and I knew the answer. I
care because I had a mother, I have a wife, and I have a
beautiful 10-year-old daughter. The woman in the stairwell whose
life has gone so badly was at one time all of those things. She
didn’t expect her world to come to this...lying incoherent and
bleeding in a dirty hotel stairwell.
As I tried to sleep I saw my daughter’s face and
for the first time understood the hopes and fears that fathers
of daughters face. Not only do we need to hope she finds a man
who will love her, but we also pray that when rough times find
them, there is no violence brought to the relationship. Abusive
relationships aren’t new and are all too often a part of the
world, but that Saturday night in Monroe brought it home for me.
My prayer is that there will always be someone to care for my
Three losses and a long day of travel delays
don’t seem so hard to take.