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UL Sports’ Greatest Tradition – From the Bird’s Nest

Matt HIcks had a double major in biology and chemistry and a minor in psychology. His grade point average was over 3.5. And, he did it in just four years.

Yeah, I’m old school.

And I don’t apologize for it.

As much as I love sports and love doing sports on the radio, I’m still one of those guys who believes student-athletes are students first.  And, their priority should be to graduate.

Every semester when the list of graduates who have also played on the field, court or diamond is published, well…it makes me feel good.  And, especially for the ones I covered because I’ve gotten to know them.  I wish I could watch every one of them receive his/her diploma.

Well, that can’t happen.

But I can watch baseball players.

I honestly don’t remember what year this started…it was certainly a decade or more.  Baseball players who had met their degree requirements frequently missed out on the “walk” at graduation because they were playing ball.

So, UL started the tradition of baseball players getting their degrees at home plate on the last home date of the season.  The President is there…so are many of the deans of the various colleges represented.  Mom, Dad and the rest of the family are there…some down on the field.

It gets me…every time.  In fact, it’s a good thing I’m concentrating on the pre game show, otherwise people would be looking at me funny in the press box.

Nowhere else is the combination of student and athlete epitomized publicly than it is on Graduation Day at M. L. “Tigue” Moore Field.  That ceremony, combined with the honoring of the seniors who haven’t yet graduated (but will), makes for a pre game that fans should all be proud of.

I know I am.

Below are some memories from the 2014 Spring Graduation Day and Senior Day at the “Tigue.”

Our thanks to Ryan Baniewicz for taking these shots:

Tyler Girouard redshirted his freshman year. He got his degree Saturday although he’s just a junior in eligibility.
UL President Dr. Joe Savoie presents Chris Griffitt with his degree. Griffitt, injured last year, took a redshirt and finished his academics…and pitched a scoreless inning during the game.
Seth Harrison and his family. Harrison celebrated Graduation Day by getting the game winning hit in the 14th inning. Not sure which was a bigger moment for him, but I know what the biggest moment was for his family
Matt Plitt is part of the class of 2014. His performance Friday night was as good as he’s pitched all year. This pitch was pretty good, too.
…and it’s not just those who play between the lines. Manager Tyler “Shotgun” Cater was among the honorees. He even wore long pants!
The graduates also received medallions from the Sun Belt Conference

According to Coach Tony Robichaux, the following seniors will have gotten their degrees by the end of the fall 2014 semester.

Cody Boutte is undefeated as a pitcher this season. In league games, he has the best ERA among starting pitchers in the Sun Belt.
Chase Compton has been a mainstay at first base for most of his career. This year, he’s third on the team in RBI
Ryan Leonards has been the epitome of a utility player. He’s played six different positions for the Cajuns during his career. This season he’s been a mainstay at third base.
Ryan Wilson received his scrapbook prior to the game. He’s been a starting pitcher, reliever and outfielder this season. Don’t mess with “Scoob”
Tony Robichaux and Director of Baseball Operations Chris Domingue will make sure all of these players have their college degree. Any that play professionally may have a different timetable. But they’ll all get it done. Coach Deaux will haunt and hound them until they do.

Oh…and, by the way….the Cajuns won.

 

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