by Victor Lopez
BIG SPRING--The last time Howard College won a JuCo World Series Championship was in 1991. This year's team hopes to change all that. They headed off Tuesday morning to Grand Junction, Colorado, to take part in the 2009 JuCo World Series tournament. But there's a lot more to this group of talented athletes than just baseball.
"These are gentlemen. These are good kids. They're not just really good baseball players. They're really good kids," Big Spring Mayor, Russ McEwen, said.
Not only can they play ball with the best of them, those who know them, speak very highly of the players on the Howard College baseball team.
"We had 20 of them graduate on Friday evening, so that just tells you what kind of young men these are. They are very committed to their goals and when they make their mind up about something, they're going to do it," Howard College President, Dr. Cheryl Sparks, said.
Something they set their mind on doing, earning a trip to the NJCAA World Series. According to Head Coach Britt Smith, "It was our goal, coming into the year. With the work that the kids put in and the way we played, we feel blessed to be in a situation to be heading up there and be able to realize our goal."
The support the team got on Monday was obvious, from to the oldest to the smallest Hawk fan in the crowd. The players showed their appreciation in return, by greeting their little fans, one by one.
"I think it's obvious, with this crowd today, that we are very excited in Howard County, about the Howard College Baseball team. These young men have done an outstanding job of representing, not only themselves, but the College and their families and we're very, very proud of them," President Sparks said.
The Hawks set and broke records this season with a 57 game winning streak. Bringing home a national title would be the icing on the cake. But win or lose, Mayor McEwens says, the community wants these guys to know they are loved, "The support is there regardless. If they had not gone to nationals, we would have had the same support for them right now."
The NJCAA JuCo World Series Tournament starts this Saturday, May 23, in Grand Junction, Colorado. Howard College takes on Western Nevada College in game one.