WNC has made ‘The Game’ most rewarding | NevadaAppeal.com

WNC has made ‘The Game’ most rewarding

Sam Herceg
WNC assistant softball coach

Editor’s Note: Throughout the rest of 2016 Western Nevada College baseball and softball seasons, which is the last for WNC athletics, the Appeal is featuring columns every Sunday from those who are sharing their memories of the programs.

I have spent the last 66 years of my life involved and participating in the “Game.” The game being baseball/softball. Without question the last six years have been the most meaningful. Having the good fortune of being part of the coaching staff for the Western Nevada College softball team has contributed memories that will never be forgotten. Thank you Dr. Lucy, Helaine Jessie, Chester Burton, John Kinkella and especially Leah Wentworth for giving me this fantastic opportunity.

Watching the young coaching staff mature into a professional organized group and watching the young lady athletes right out of high school entering the program with great anticipation and a good amount of fright become solid citizens in the course of their two years with us has made it clear many life lessons are learned outside of the formal classroom. In this case it was the “classroom on the grass” that provided the education.

The athletes learn the importance of teamwork, communication, hard work, sportsmanship and the value of education. They come to understand education and scholarship are No. 1 in our program. From day one coach Wentworth makes it clear they are a “Student Athlete” and that’s the reason “Student” is the first word in the phrase. They are Students first and Athletes second. Scholarship is and has been the No. 1 focus of the program; resulting in being Scholastic All-American for the past four years. Baseball under the leadership of Coach D.J Whittemore likewise stresses scholastic achievement. The baseball team has been Scholastic All-Americans for most of the program’s existence. The fact baseball has produced a winning program year after year — Western Nevada College is a most sought after program for graduating high school baseball and softball players.

Unlike baseball in which the athlete has the opportunity to continue his career into the professional level, women do not get the same chance. What can and does happen to women is to use this vehicle to achieve a college education. Two years at the junior college level and possible two more years at the four year level is really about all women can expect from playing the “Game.” A college education is the goal. I and the other coaches are extremely proud of the fact the vast majority of our women have successfully completed their two and four year degrees.

A distressing fact is many young lady athletes will not have this same opportunity with the program coming to an end at the conclusion of the 2016 season.

A large percentage of the young ladies who have passed through and those currently in our program would not have had the opportunity to attend college if not for this great program.

From a performance standpoint the lady Wildcats have improved significantly over the past six years.

Starting as cellar dwellers, the lady Wildcats have climbed the ladder to a point that in the 2016 season they have a chance of winning the conference.

With a 14-5-2 fall season/preseason record the Wildcats enter the SWAC conference with an impressive set of statistics. Batting .391 as a team, scoring 133 runs, 10 home runs and a .slugging percentage of 524, stealing 39 bases, and a combined pitching era of 3.80 the Cats promise to be a strong contender for the conference title.

Please make it a point to come out and see these talented athletes this season.