The 2016 Locust Grove and East Rutherford High School Baseball Teams are both coming off of amazing seasons. With both teams finishing as State Champions in their respective divisions, they have much to be proud of.
East Rutherford Baseball beat South Granville, the reigning baseball champion, 10-5 in the third game of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 2-A baseball state championship and Locust Grove Baseball finished with a 3-1 victory over Buford to win the 4-A baseball championship. As a result of their success, it is only natural that we wanted to speak with coaches Stephen Phillips and Bobby Dale Reynolds to get the scoop on what was different with these teams versus previous years, how they won it all, and how Vs. Cancer played a role in their abundant success this past season.
Both teams had different motivations for partnering with Vs. Cancer. Coach Reynolds states that they “had a few parents go through cancer and a former player diagnosed with leukemia at an early age. It didn’t take but one time asking to get a positive response from all of the leaders of the program.” Coach Phillips decided to work with Vs. Cancer because their coaching staff agreed that they needed “to really invest in the lives of each of their players. Not just on the field, but off the field as well.” Both coaches felt that this extra element of team and personal development would be crucial to the future success of their teams.
Each coach felt that their partnerships with Vs. Cancer directly impacted their team in a tangible way. Coach Reynolds of East Rutherford stated that “what was amazing was 10 of the 25 guys that aren’t active players had the chance to be leaders and embrace Vs. Cancer, shave their heads, and make an impact in a role they wouldn’t necessarily have otherwise.” The experience helped the team embrace the team-oriented focus of their season, “it brought them together, and it was nothing but positive for their guys.”
Coach Phillips of Locust Grove said “with a team game like baseball, you need more than one person to make the team successful. That was the big difference in our team this year compared to teams I have coached in the past. No one person was the hero. It took all 19 guys doing their little part to make the team successful.” Vs. Cancer had a profound impact on the nature of their team dynamic and taught the team that they are very fortunate to get to play the game that they love. Not only did the experience bond them, it showed all of the boys how fortunate they are “to be able to lace up their cleats and go out and play the great game of baseball. So many days we take for granted that we are healthy and able.” Coach Phillips concludes with powerful words by saying, “I will do my part whether it be a small part or a big part, I will do as my players did this past season and continue to fight until a cure is found. May God bless you all and may we all do our part in the fight.”
The coaches and athletes of Locust Grove and East Rutherford High Schools did a wonderful job raising money to help us find a cure and their dedication to Vs. Cancer is admirable. Both programs truly understand the value of service and how it is tied to success on the field. We are proud to work with such kind and hardworking programs and look forward to their contributions in the future.
We hope that Vs. Cancer can continue to inspire teams and build relationships that will teach young athletes to be better teammates on and off of the field and push them to excel within their sports.