With a light drizzle coming down outside, the spirits inside the Stony Brook University Sports Complex could not have been higher on Wednesday morning as the baseball team departed for the NCAA College World Series in Omaha, Neb., amidst much fanfare.
“The fan support has been absolutely tremendous,” head coach Matt Senk said. “The players are so appreciative; I’m so appreciative. This is a great university that we represent.”
At least 100 people from the University and the surrounding community came out to see that the team members knew that they would remain in the hearts and minds of many as they left for a plane ride to America’s heartland. The marching band and its stalwart leader, John Leddy, made the noise of cheers and music reverberate throughout the entrance hall of the Sports Complex.
“It’s very exciting,” Jim McArthur of Centereach said. “It’s wonderful the way that Stony Brook has grown and is growing. It’s getting better and better everyday.”
At approximatley 9:30 a.m., the players themselves came up from the basement and passed through the crowd of people, each with a broad smile. They could not linger, however, as they had to board the bus that would take them to the airport.
Senk said that the baseball program as it is today is the result of a lot of effort from numerous people.
“Jim Fiore has been a tremendous leader of this program,” he said. “President Stanley – everyone has been just unbelievable. I think what you see here with the baseball program is the residual effect of so much hard work. Our student athletes are doing great things. It’s not surprise that this is going on at Stony Brook.”
In the end, Senk hoped to return with, as one reporter put it, the “big trophy,” the award given by the NCAA to the national champion.
“That’s the plan,” he said. “That was the plan from day one.”
As one of the last people to get on the bus, junior infielder William Carmona gave the sign that has become so familiar to Seawolves fans over the past few days: raising three fingers and making an O with his index finger and thumb. The three fingers symbolize the rounds of the tournament that the Seawolves have already conquered. The O symbolizes the challenge ahead, the Valhalla of college baseball- Omaha.