Willie Brown has set high standards for his first year as the baseball team’s head coach, expressing that a championship is within the team’s reach.
He and the team will seek to prove that on Friday, as Florida A&M will kick off the 2012 season at the Jackson State Invitational in Jackson, Miss.
To prepare for the season’s opener, Brown said the team has been practicing in-game situations with speed activities during their fall scrimmages. Entering game shape is the first step toward representing the school well, he said.
“One of the things we’ve been trying to do is make sure that our kids understood that those four letters, F-A-M-U, that they wear across their chest means a lot to a lot of people and that they represent those people,” said Brown, a FAMU alum and former Florida Marlins outfielder.
With this being his inaugural season, Brown said he is trying to lead the team by example with his motivational motto, “I lead; you follow.”
“I think that in the four and a half to five months that I’ve been the coach, I’m confident that I have convinced these kids that we can bring the championship to Tallahassee,” Brown said.
Because of the team’s 6-12 record in conference play last season, Brown said FAMU is projected to finish low in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference standings this season. However, he said the team has a strong chance to impact the conference tournament. FAMU finished 17-39 on the season overall.
Brown said he expects every player to put forth a valiant effort on the field this season.
“I don’t want anyone wearing a uniform and not producing or helping the team and not contributing in some way,” Brown said.
David Duncan, a junior pitcher from Stark, Fla., said he wants to win at least three games during the opening tournament.
“As always, the season opener is exciting. You get to see if all the 7 a.m. workouts and the 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. practices payoff,” Duncan said.
Amid the excitement, some players are nervous about this season. Corey Franklin, a utility player from Jacksonville, Fla., said he worries about the team’s depth.
“If someone gets hurt, we have to fill the spot with someone who doesn’t play that position,” Franklin said. “I think this opener is a test to see how we plan out for the year. I’ve been through this before so I just try to stay calm and get through it.”