Student skills rewarded with scholarships for baseball

The pitcher walks up to the mound feeling the weight of the ball in his hand. He takes a deep breath focusing in on his target. He tightens his grip on the ball, winds up, and releases. The catcher frames the pitch perfectly as the crowd waits to hear the umpire call strike three. Another win recorded and one step closer to the championship. It’s more than just a game, it is a part of who they are and a career path they look to explore.

Seniors Ty Culbreth and Jacob Huckabay have been playing baseball ever since they could pick up a bat, and for Culbreth baseball has always been there for him.

“I’ve always played because it’s always been second nature to me,” Culbreth said. “When you have a passion for the game like we do, it’s all Jacob and I know.”

The dedication required at the level both boys play at takes a great deal of time and a lot of heart.

“I am doing something baseball related 7 days a week,” Culbreth said. “You can’t slow down your game if you want to be successful. It’s baseball 24/7, year round.”

Culbreth and Huckabay agree that in order to have a good team, you need leadership. Both boys strive to be a leading figure on and off the field.

“I just try to show up to the field everyday and help the guys who are younger than me,” Huckabay said. “Just showing up to their games for support and showing them that I have their backs.”

Not only do the boys work hard athletically, baseball coach David Powers says they work equally hard on having the right mind and attitude for the team.

“They are great leaders and work hard in the off-season and during the season to have that credibility as leaders,” Powers said. “They are great encourages for the team. It’s not about their personal wins, it’s about how many wins the Bryan Vikings get and I’ve been very proud of them on that account.”

Powers believes both boys will continue to be outstanding baseball players as well as men.

“They are both going to be very successful,” Powers said. “Both of them are really good students and citizens and it’s nice to see guys like that do well and get scholarships.”

Powers has great faith in both Culbreth and Huckabay and they can say the same thing about him.

“It means a lot to you as a player when you have a man like him behind you every step of the way,” Huckabay said. “Guys that I played with my freshman year are very successful and they thank baseball a lot of the times when in reality it was the man that coached that helped us out more than anything.”

Baseball has taught Culbreth and Huckabay not only how to be better athletes, but also it has given them a new outlook on life – to be ambitious in everything you do.

“Playing a sport like baseball carries over into your everyday life, you always have that drive and want to be successful,” Culbreth said. “You will always have that competitiveness within yourself to be the best you can be and that all comes from baseball.”

Huckabay and Culbreth take baseball very seriously, however they have to remind themselves that it’s okay to take a breather and realize you can’t always have a perfect game.

“It is stressful in a way, because you feel like you have to make every play with no errors,” Huckabay said. “You just have to take a step back and remember that it is a game and you are there to have fun. It’s hard to think about, especially when I always strive for perfection every time. Basically I’m my own enemy when it comes to playing the game, but I have to keep a smile on my face the whole time through.”

Culbreth and Huckabay have dedicated so much to baseball and have proven that hard work and perseverance can really pay off. Both boys have been given the opportunity to continue their baseball career with full baseball scholarships and the chance to be drafted to a big league team.

“Getting drafted would be a huge accomplishment for me and would be a dream come true,” Huckabay said. “Since I was little I can remember saying to myself, ‘I want to do that one day’ and for it to be an option for me now is an absolute dream come true. I just always tell myself to remain humble, work hard, and to never give up.”

But having to decide between a dedicated baseball career and college is no easy decision.

“Ever since I was little it’s always been a dream of mine to play professional baseball. However, it won’t be easy turning down a scholarship to the University of Texas, taking away my college life and missing out on all the traditions,” Culbreth said. “Either way, no matter what happens, I will be perfectly satisfied with the path God leads me to.”

No matter what Culbreth and Huckabay decide, baseball will never be just a mere sport to them. Both believe baseball has taught them so much more that they can carry off the field and to their own lives.

“Baseball impacts my life on a daily basis,” Culbreth said. “From the decisions I make everyday to the sacrifices I have to make to become a better player. When you fall in love with a sport like baseball there’s no turning back.”