BYU baseball team set to begin the year on Feb. 17
Former Del Norte Warrior Travis Stacey can't wait to get his first year as a collegiate baseball player under way.
The 2011 Del Norte High graduate is a third baseman with the Brigham Young University baseball squad in Provo, Utah. He earned a spot on the team as a walk-on last fall.
Out of more than 60 people who tried out, he was one of only two walk-ons chosen. A story on this accomplishment ran in the Triplicate last October.
"It's been going really good," Stacey said during a phone interview
with the Triplicate. When he talked with the paper a few weeks back the
squad had just begun light practices.
"It's been nice to be out with the team and taking grounders," Stacey
said. "It's just great being here and living my dream of playing
baseball in college. I'm excited and just looking foward to the season."
Goals for the season
The Cougars begin the season at home Feb. 17 against UC Riverside.
This will be the first year the Cougars will play in the West Coast
Conference. They finished the 2011 season 31-27 overall. BYU is coached
by former major leaguer Vance Law.
At Del Norte his senior year, Stacey finished with a .580 batting
average. During basketball season he broke his right wrist and was
expected to miss a good chunk of the baseball season. Stacey went to
work to be ready for the season. While he had to wear a wrist brace, he
did not miss any time.
Stacey is currently a bench player with the Cougars. His goal this
season is to learn as much as he can, hopefully see some game action and
perhaps start a game.
"I know I'll likely not be playing a lot, but when I do play I'm
going to go out and do as well as I can to the best of my ability," he
Casey Duncan was an assistant baseball coach last season with the Warriors. He was also Stacey's head coach back in Babe Ruth.
Duncan said it's a major accomplishment for Stacey to have made a Division 1 baseball program as a walk-on.
"He has always been a dedicated baseball player with a lot of
skill," Duncan said. "If he puts his mind to do something he'll do it
... It's quite a feat for him to make the team. He's gotten to where he
wants to be."
Stacey thanked all the coaches who have helped him through the years
in Crescent City including Pablo Lorenzi, the Warriors baseball head
coach last season, Duncan and fellow assistant Dave Brous.
Without their help and guidance Stacey said he would have never made it this far.
And he thanked his father Bruce Stacey, who has always encouraged him to achieve his goals.
"He pushed me to be better," Travis Stacey said.
He's not the only Stacey playing college sports. His older sister,
Michelle Stacey, a 2009 Del Norte graduate, is in her first year
playing softball at BYU-Hawaii after playing the past two years at the
College of the Redwoods in Eureka.
Dominican Republic trip
Last November over the Thanksgiving holiday, Stacey joined his
BYU teammates in a trip to the Dominican Republic where they played
games, visited communities and helped give out supplies such as food and
medicine in the impoverished nation.
"That experience changed my life," Stacey said.
Known as a baseball hotbed, the Dominican Republic has several club
teams run by Major League Baseball teams. Squads that BYU faced included
teams run by the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees
"It was nuts going out to play a team and looking out and seeing them in Yankees uniforms," Stacey said.
He recalled when he and his teammates gave out bags of baseball gear to youth baseball teams how excited their players were.
"The kids had nothing," Stacey said. "For many it was their first baseball glove."
Experiences like this and delivering food and medical supplies to a
poor sugar cane village, or visiting a school in a crime-ridden area,
gave Stacey a greater perspective on life.
"It made me realize how much I have and how much I take for granted," he said. "It was a humbling experience."
While Stacey is new to the BYU baseball team he said his coaches and teammates have welcomed him warmly.
"It's like a family," he said.
In June, Stacey plans to begin a two-year Mormon mission. When he
returns he plans to continue his baseball career with the Cougars.
Reach Bill Choy at email@example.com.