Off the Bench

Academic Honors

Cole Doherty and Tanner Swisher, UMB Bank pitchers were honored as NAIA Baseball Scholar-Athletes from Park University.

Cary Lundy, who coaches at Park as well as manages the UMB Bank team, said, “We try to bring in high caliber student athletes at Park University.  We had 3 NAIA Scholar athletes and 17 AMC Conference All-Academic team.  Cole Doherty and Tanner Swisher are leaders in the classroom and on the field.”

What is key to success in the classroom and baseball field?

“I would say the key for me is to staying focused and motivated,” Doherty said. “My goal first and foremost is to get my degree, being able to play college baseball is a bonus on top of that. I will be able to graduate on time in the spring in four years and not have to come back for a fifth year, which is a big deal to me.”

He said that it is tougher during the baseball season.

“During the season, we miss a good amount of classes but being in constant communication with professors allows us to be on the same page,” Doherty said. “Sometimes I have to take work on the road with me and do it either on the bus or in the hotel room.”

He noted that the professors at Park have been very understanding about missing classes and working with him to get what is missed in class.

Doherty said that academic success starts early in life.

“It started in grade school and high school with my parents always putting an emphasis on getting good grades and applying myself in school,” he said. “I have always worked hard to be able to accomplish that.”

Four Ban Johnson League players from Rockhurst University were named Academic All-Conference for the Great Lakes Valley Conference. It took a 3.3 GPA to achieve this honor.

They are NKC Apts. Giants outfielders Kye Denker and Chase Leavy; NKC Apts. Giants pitcher Andrew Ellwanger and Regal Plastic outfielder Mitch Stickney.

Leavy is looking to becoming a medical doctor.

“I learned during high school that the key to success was being organized and structured,” he said. “This became more important in college. Last semester it seemed as if I was at school all day every day. I’d wake up early for hitting and weights in the morning, then go to class and then back for more baseball. Being a science major, I have to take a lot of labs which cut into my practice time. As soon as I finished a lab I would go straight to practice, then straight home to start homework and at some point try to find the time to eat.”

But all this is important.

“But putting in all this effort is what it means to be a student athlete,” he said. “I’ve always known that as much as I love baseball, you must make the most out of your college education.”

Stickney credits Rockhurst coach Gary Burns for the academic success of his players.

“Coach Burns does a great job of creating an environment where academics come first,” he said. “Coach is very flexible when it comes to practices and departure times for road trips, allowing students to take part in afternoon lab sessions and night classes. There is a strong sense of community at Rockhurst and many professors are willing to accommodate student athletes while they are on the road and missing classes.”

What has been his secret?

“For myself it has come down to prioritizing and time management,” he said. “I believe I have done a good job of finding a balance between baseball and academics.”

High School All-State

Infielder Jack Duke of the NKC Apts. Giants (Blue Valley Northwest) and infielder Robbie Suhr of the MidAmeriCare Nationals (Summit Christian Academy) were second team picks by USA Today for its 2016 All-USA High School Baseball Team for their states.

KCSC Blaze pitcher Shae Stephens and Natural Baseball Academy pitcher Keller Agre  got a chance to play in late May at the JUCO World Series in Grand Junction, Colorado. Both were part of the Cowley County Community College team.

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