December 1, 2020

The Pitch – Leaving the right way

If you haven’t realized it yet, you soon will.

Tom Hart didn’t just leave Webster University Athletics. He departed from a program that he molded and advanced as far anyone could have with the limits of time and space.

He set it for success.

I think he knew exactly what he was doing. Hart wouldn’t have left this program until he knew the right people were in place to carry on a proud tradition.

Besides two first year coaches in Women’s Tennis and Track and Field/Cross Country, every head coach has between six and 13 years of experience. Andrew Belsky, Webster golf coach, said that Hart’s greatest accomplishment in his 20 years at Webster was putting together this staff.

The new athletic director will pick up the battle of growing the space-challenged athletic department where Hart left off. But for now every current program is set. Some are even as lucky as the soccer and baseball programs that play on two of the best fields in the area.

In just their second year of a 15-year contract, the soccer teams will use the world-class fields at Soccer Park, owned by St. Louis Scott Gallagher. A stadium in which the USA Men’s U17 National Team played in last winter.

Gorlok Baseball will still play in a stadium that is second in the St. Louis area to Busch Stadium-GCS Ballpark, home for the Gateway Grizzlies of the Frontier League. A field that is always in game shape and can hold a crowd of 6,000.

If only the Gorlok fans would finally realize that.

The first time I met Hart I came to talk to him about why the Webster fans fail to support the baseball team. I was a second semester freshman and I wanted to write an opinion on why our Webster fans are lazy and should make the 25 minute drive to GCS Ballpark in Sauget, Ill. The team was consistently winning and I felt they deserved to have a crowd of at least more than their parents and girlfriends.

As I look back now, two years after setting up that interview, I wonder how Hart held back from telling me I had no clue what I was talking about. I was comparing our school to the fan base of D-1 colleges and asking why we can’t have that, why do you have them play so far off campus, and what are you doing to fix it?

He could easily have, and maybe should have just said, “We are D-III dumbass.”

Hart found a way for his baseball team to play in one of the best facilities in the area. D-III athletics is made for crowds of thousands or even hundreds of people to pack a stadium.

Being still an overexcited freshman wanting to get published in The Journal, I still wrote about how big of bums and inconsiderate jerks our lacking fan base is at Webster. The column, of course, never made it past my professor’s desk.

Just a few weeks before I wrote the column I found out  there was a piece about practically the same thing, that was printed in The Journal.

With all the great things that Hart has done for this campus in the past 20 plus years, he had two student reports writing how much Webster Athletics sucks.

Hart deserves more recognition than that.

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