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Making a splash in Omaha

USC made quite a splash in the Omaha World-Herald during the College World Series. The ad above ran in the newspaper’s June 17 edition and the editorial below by President Harris Pastides ran in the opinion section on June 16.

Omaha Bound

Harris Pastides, president University of South Carolina

It’s the morning after, June 12, 2012. The newspaper headlines, blazing with pride, capture the big news: “CHASING HISTORY” and “STREAKING TO OMAHA.” A fantastic, oversized photo captures our boys in a jumble of joy — hugging, laughing, celebrating.

For the third straight year, the University of South Carolina’s reigning back-to-back College World Series champions, with an NCAA tournament winning streak of 21 games and another streak of 24 straight home wins, are headed to Omaha! I am one proud Gamecock.

There is something magical about this team. Coach Tanner sensed it early on. It’s hard to put a finger on it, but let me try. They are unspoiled; they appreciate each win and believe another one is just around the corner. They see a bigger picture.

Just ask pitcher Michael Roth, who dreams of playing professional baseball and running his own company. Michael keeps his eye on the ball and his future — his GPA is as stellar as his stats.

The Gamecocks are gracious winners, repeatedly acknowledging their coach, other players and their worthy opponents. They take nothing for granted; they concentrate, focus and put in long hours. They’ve learned to love the work. They are leaders on the field, on campus and in the community. A fan wrote, “It’s so easy to pull for this team. Just great young men, good students, classy.” I agree.

These players are also fortunate to have Coach Ray Tanner in their lives. Coaching, circling, watching, listening, motivating, inspiring, Ray is a leader of young men. His expectations go beyond the clubhouse.

He expects them to excel at the university, and they do. He cares about their physical and mental health.

He once shared that as he and his wife, Karen, began their family, he found that he looked at his players in a different light. He realized that his shortstop was someone’s son. He made adjustments.

I’m a lifelong baseball fan. Growing up in the shadow of a baseball stadium, I love everything about America’s favorite pastime. I love the beauty of the game — how it unfolds on a warm spring evening, how it unites us and gives us common ground.

For example, I’ve received calls and emails from the South Carolina coast to the mountains and many places in between. Interestingly, regardless of university affiliation, each call and note expressed a sense of joy and pride in these young men. For this moment, our boys belong not only to USC but to our entire state. We gladly share them.

This team subliminally reminds us of those unspoiled professional baseball players who teach us about character, comebacks, luck and hard work, losing and resilience, winning and grace — evening after evening in America’s ballparks. A number of our players have been drafted by the majors; it is my hope that they will walk in the footsteps of baseball greats like those of my childhood.

No matter where the players on this extraordinary team land, whether on a playing field, in a classroom or in a boardroom, I am certain each will continue the University of South Carolina’s and Coach Tanner’s tradition of leading, learning, inspiring, participating and giving back.

Omaha! It’s nice to be back.

 

Posted: 06/17/12 @ 12:00 AM | Updated: 06/26/12 @ 6:39 PM | Permalink

CWS Updates

  • Tuesday: Baseball team returns to Carolina Stadium
  • Monday: USC loses to Arizona 4-1
  • Sunday: USC loses to Arizona 5-1
  • Friday: USC beats Arkansas 3-2 to advanace to the championship series
  • Thursday: USC beats Arkansas 2-0 to stave off elimination; in earlier game, USC beat Kent State 4-1.
  • June 18: USC loses to Arkansas 2-1.
  • June 16: USC defeats Florida 7-3.

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