Kevin Cooney

Kevin 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 Cooney's Owls finished their first season in the Sun Belt Conference at 36-22 in 2007.




April 17, 2008

The Price You Pay

Now they'd come so far and they'd waited so long

Just to end up caught in a dream where everything goes wrong

Where the dark of night holds back the light of day

And you've gotta stand and fight for the price you pay


Anyone involved in athletics learns early on that there is a price they pay for the chance to compete. For the college athlete it means forsaking the carefree lifestyle of the average college student. The serious athlete spends hours in the weight room, study hall, classroom, as well as the practice field, for the chance to put their effort and dreams on the line against those who do the same.


Coaches choose to continue the pursuit of perfect competition in the only way left to them after their playing days end. As young aspirants to the profession they work for nothing - or less. Hours are spent in paying dues by trying to make themselves and their players better. When families are part of the equation, birthdays, First Communions, graduations, little league and high school games of their children are missed.


Everyone pays a price.


Last night was special. We had the largest crowd in FAU history packed into our ballpark to see us battle the nation's number one team. It was so crowded that Frank Brogan, our president, and his brother stood behind me in the dugout all night.


Talk about pressure!


The night started great with a 10-3 lead and the hope of another upset like last week's 6-3 win in Coral Gables. But like the song says we "got caught in a dream where everything goes wrong".


Before you knew it (actually after four hours) our lead was down to one run - but there were two outs in the ninth. I don't know what other coaches think about at times like that, but my mind was flooded with the realization that we might beat Miami in back-to-back games.


I'm closer to the end of my career than I am the beginning. Many of these games take on an added flavor when viewed in that context.


As our closer recorded his second strikeout in the ninth, I thought it would happen. All the frustrating years of walking over to Jim Morris or Ron Fraser and offering congratulations on their victory might just be eased with one more out.


Now some say forget the past, and don't look back

But for every breath you take, well buddy you leave a track

And though it don't seem fair, for every smile that plays

A tear must fall somewhere


Yonder Alonso's two-run homer to right, and Miami's joyous celebration, brought those lyrics to life for us last night. As I watched the scene unfold from the dugout I felt for the young kids in white who came up short and would have to live with the mistakes made.


To me, "it don't seem fair"; the underdog needs their turn. One team smiles, while for the other, tears sometimes fall.


It's the price we all pay for the choice we made in this life of sport.




The Price You Pay - Bruce Springsteen - The River