Contact: Cherie Yurco;
For immediate release — April 6, 2021
The Cedar Valley Campus baseball field was kept groomed and ready for action throughout the 2020 quarantine — as were all the Dallas College fields.
(DALLAS) — Guy Simmons, head baseball coach at Dallas College Richland Campus, recalled when he first got word of the shutdown. He was playing the Eastfield team, and March Madness had already been called off. The coaches discussed the likelihood of their season continuing. It was cancelled that evening.
In his 35th year of coaching, Simmons said he never thought something like the pandemic could happen.
“We were ranked third in the country when our season got cut,” said Kevin Hurst, head baseball coach for Dallas College Brookhaven Campus. The team was in between games of a triple header.
“I got an email that campus activities were shutting down,” he said. “I let my guys know that this may be our last game for a while. At that point, I still hoped we were coming back to finish the season. Under no circumstances did I think that one year later we would still be having these conversations, wearing masks and standing six feet apart.”
“Last spring, when we closed down all campus activities for the safety of our students and staff, it was a particularly difficult time for spring athletes who had to abruptly adapt to a world without the sports they’ve played for most of their lives,” said Dr. Beatriz Joseph, Dallas College vice chancellor of student success. “They endured months of wondering when they’d be on the fields again.”
(Left to right): Brookhaven baseball team members Jonathan Boyer and Ben Price and coach Kevin Hurst
Coaches advised players to follow safety protocols first and try to work out on their own.
“These young men have been playing baseball since they were six or seven years old. They have an idea of what it takes for them to stay sharp physically and mentally. We tried to tune into that,” said Hurst.
“Honestly, I’m really proud,” he said. “I feel like our guys did an amazing job of keeping themselves safe off the field.” They channeled extra free time into schoolwork, achieving a high team GPA this fall.
Players Coped With Loss, Uncertainty
Brookhaven infielder Jonathan Boyer was an NJCAA Academic All-American last year. Before coming to Brookhaven, he played for Newman Smith High School in Carrollton. The early end to the 2020 season was tough for him.
“We felt we were definitely going to the College World Series and making a run for the championship,” he said. “Without a doubt, it was some of the most fun baseball I had ever played. I spent time in quarantine thinking about what could have been.”
When quarantine extended into May, Boyer missed saying goodbye to graduating teammates. It was heartbreaking. Like other Dallas College sophomores, he’s now relieved to be back on the field displaying his skills to college recruiters.
Boyer will earn his associate degree this spring and hopes to play baseball for a four-year school in the fall. “I want to have a good year for Brookhaven, but also so I can keep playing,” he said. “I had no idea what the future held if the season was canceled.”
“I realized that I had been taking the opportunity to play for granted. I never want to do that again. Even when we are scrimmaging, I appreciate the opportunity to play the sport we love,” said Boyer.
Richland players line up for temperature checks.
Richland sophomore Blake Mullen was understandably upset when last spring’s season was cut short. After graduating from Cy Falls High School, he was accepted as a redshirt for Stephen F. Austin but ultimately decided to go to Richland so he could play.
“We were 22 and 10 last year — winning a lot of games, scoring a lot of runs. We had a good chance of making it to the championship,” he said.
He stuck it out at Richland when 17 of his teammates transferred due to uncertainty about the spring season. “As one of the leaders of the team, I thought the right thing to do was to be loyal and wait it out,” said the shortstop. “We had a lot of good guys leave, but at the same time, I saw all the players we were bringing in.”
Mullen, who will graduate with a degree in business this spring, has already gotten some offers to play baseball at four-year schools.
Brookhaven pitcher Ben Price is a freshman who had his senior season at Lake Dallas High School cut short. The abrupt end caught him by surprise.
“It was about 30 minutes before we were supposed to get on a bus to go to a game,” he recalled. “They said ‘postponed,’ but everybody kind of knew it was the last game.” He came to Richland not knowing if there would be a season this spring.
College Officials Weighed Safety Issues, Student Goals
“At Dallas College, our first priority is determining what is the best option for these students who have trained since they were youngsters with the goal of playing competitively in college. In addition, many of our sophomores are hoping to be recruited to play at four-year institutions next fall,” said Dr. Joseph.
Richland players warm up for practice.
Both coaches are thankful that the teams can play and proud of how they have adapted to follow CDC protocols. Before starting practice, team members must answer a series of health-related questions on an app and then have their temperature taken. Masks are kept on throughout practice, and it ends with a socially distant huddle. Many players travel to and from games in their own vehicles.
“We weighed many factors in deciding to let the teams play. Ultimately, the sports themselves are unlikely spreaders when athletes take proper precautions. Our Dallas College teams have done an excellent job of adapting to our current protocols and staying safe,” said Dr. Sharon Davis, Dallas College chief critical response officer.
Coach Hurst said he was euphoric for his team when they found out they would get to play the season. “When we played our first baseball game this spring, we determined it had been 349 days since our last baseball game. That’s a long time!” he said.
Both coaches are grateful to Dallas College officials for allowing the students to play.
“This game is all about them. They have lost teammates and friends. It’s been very trying, but they are resilient, and it’s important that they get to play,” Simmons said.
# # #