Graduation was a few weeks ago, but there were swarms of people surrounding the main entrance to the Stony Brook Athletic Complex awaiting the arrival of the baseball team, which returned a day after conquering the Louisiana State University (LSU) Tigers in the NCAA Super Regional round and punching a ticket to the College World Series.
“I did expect to see some success,” University President Samuel Stanley said, “But I think this surpasses everything that I expected. I don’t care if you’re a fantastic team – it’s so hard to get into the top eight.”
People from all walks of life in the community came to attend the media day, which was put on by Stony Brook Athletics, to welcome the team back from its recent success. Stanley, Congressman Tim Bishop, alumni and others all came amidst a crowd of hundreds of students who told journalists in attendance about the general excitement of the university and the community at large.
Around 2:30 p.m., the team itself arrived in a white coach bus as the cheers and applause continued to build. One by one, the players marched off the bus to high-fives and a sea of cameras and microphones – their own excitement and joy was impossible to hide. Last to come off the bus was the godfather of Stony Brook baseball for the past two decades, head coach Matt Senk, who drew louder applause and adulation than anyone else.
He and the players slowly moved to the front steps, inserting themselves in between a larger group of students that faced a row of television cameras that were taking Stony Brook’s story to the rest of the country. President Stanley gave the opening remarks.
“These student athletes represent the best of Stony Brook,” he said, “And we’re very proud of each and every one of you.”
Stanley also introduced Bishop, who made a point to say a lot with a few words.
“I’m delighted to be here with the Stony Brook baseball team,” Bishop said. “This doesn’t happen to teams in the northeast. The last time a team from the northeast made the College World Series was 1987.”
Bishop would also present Senk with an award of Congressional recognition.
“I can’t thank everyone enough for coming out today and being here for the team,” Senk said. “I could not be prouder of the group of young men who stand here before you.”
In the midst of the buzz on campus that day, the coach and players are determined and excited for what lies ahead in Omaha, Neb., the annual site of the College World Series.
“I think there are going to be a lot of Seawolves fans out in Omaha rooting for the underdog,” junior outfielder Travis Jankowski said. “Even the LSU fans said that, hey, if you guys advance to Omaha, we’re going to be your number one fans.”