MORGANTOWN, W.Va.–Graduation is a special moment in a young adult’s life. It is a moment that he or she waits four or five years for. Maybe more or less depending on the situation.
But some student athletes don’t get the pleasure of walking across the stage in front of their family and friends because of the sport they participate in.
That rang true for the West Virginia University baseball team.
On the day that several Mountaineers were supposed to receive their diplomas, the team was playing their final home game of the season.
WVU was looking for the sweep against William & Mary while hoping to build upon its resume for the post season.
“Some of them had graduation going on at one o’clock today and couldn’t have made the game,” head coach Randy Mazey said. “So it was either going to be a one or the other thing. So we said heck, if you’re going to graduate, let’s see if we can bring somebody from the university out here to make it official.
“Baseball players rarely get to walk at graduation because of our schedule so that was pretty special. That was neat. That was the first time I’ve ever done that or seen that done. It was a great feeling for the families to get to see their kids graduate at home plate. Who gets to do that?”
So the Mountaineers honored their four seniors and two juniors the only way they knew how. A graduation ceremony behind home plate.
Prior to the game, Mazey and WVU Director of Athletics Shane Lyons honored the team’s senior class and graduating student-athletes.
Seniors Jeff Hardy, KC Huth Blake Smith and Ross Vance were all recognized for their hard work at WVU before their final home game.
But the baseball team took it one step further by honoring the four seniors and juniors Jackson Sigman and Shaun Wood with an actual graduation ceremony.
The six Mountaineers donned their caps and gowns and received their diplomas from Associate Provost Sue Day-Peroots at home plate.
Huth was actually the one who thought of the idea.
“Well we figured out about a month ago all our graduation falls on a Sunday and we had a game,” he said. “I really wanted to play the game. Graduating is really important. I’ve waited five years to do it. So I talked to coach about it and he said he was going to set that up. It’s going to be way memorable for me that way. It’s going to be a part of me for life.”
The 5-foot-11, 190-pound outfielder got the idea from one of the school’s lunch ladies.
“I was actually talking to one of the lunch ladies at school and she said she knew someone who did it that way,” Huth said. “So I brought up the idea and it ended up working out well.”
The ceremony gave the six WVU student-athletes a chance to help their team out and enjoy a graduation ceremony in front of their family and the many faithful Mountaineer fans that had supported them for the last four years.
Huth capped his special day off with a big game. He went 2-for-3 with two doubles, a walk and three RBI, helping WVU defeat the Tribe 6-1.
“It was awesome,” he said. “It was really an emotional day for me. I just had to step back and take a breath and let the emotions go and go back to focusing in. I couldn’t ask for a better day today.”
It will go down as a day that Huth and his fellow teammates will never forget.