Fort’s ‘Cool Hand’ Luke stars in baseball, basketball
Favorite subject: history
Sports: baseball, basketball
Bats: left; Throws: left
Baseball positions: pitcher and center fielder
2018 baseball honor: OVAC (Ohio Valley Athletic Conference) 3A Player of the Year with a .439 batting average, 17 steals, 34 runs scored, and a 6-2 record on the hill with one save and a 0.83 ERA (earned run average). In 43-1/3 innings of work, he struck out 59 and walked 30.
Other school activities: National Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society, FCA, guidance office aide and teacher’s aide
College: Muskingum University or Malone University
Family: Rob and Stephanie Nelson (father and mother); sister: Carlee (a gymnast)
Question: Big basketball game tonight (vs. Waterford Tuesday evening in Beverly). Any thoughts on the rivalry?
Answer: It’s always intense. Gym is packed, and the game should be a good one. It’s always a fight to the end. (Fort Frye ended up winning, 73-47.)
Q: Do you think about the game during the day at school?
A: (Laughs) Not really. Not until 5 o’clock.
Q: What’s your favorite sport?
A: I’d say baseball. I’ve always liked it more.
Q: When did you start playing baseball?
A: I think when I was 5 years old.
My dad always threw with me in the yard, a tennis ball or something. I started off in Bantam in Marietta and then I played at Worthington in West Virginia when I was about 7 or 8. And I’ve loved it ever since.
Q: As a high school baseball player, what’s been your biggest thrill so far?
A: Probably winning OVAC back-to-back. It was a great feeling. We’d only done it once. So, winning back-to-back was pretty special.
Q: Last year as a junior, you received a huge baseball honor, right?
A: (Smiles) OVAC Player of the Year. It was a great feeling. It was special, and hopefully I can try and get it again.
Q: I imagine the Fort Frye baseball team has some lofty goals this upcoming spring?
A: I think we’re going to be pretty good. But it’s going to be rough and weird without Coach (Sonny) Bidwell. (Bidwell passed away last summer.)
Q: What kind of an impact did Coach Bidwell have on your baseball career?
A: He taught me everything about life and how to be a player on and off the baseball field. I’m going to miss him.
Q: How’s the left arm?
A: It’s good. I had like an injury in my elbow area. I didn’t pitch that much in Legion ball (Beverly/Lowell Post 389/750) last summer, but it’s feeling fine this year.
Q: Are you thinking about playing baseball at the collegiate level?
A: It’s a possibility. I really haven’t thought about it yet.
Q: How long have you been playing basketball?
A: Probably when I was 6 or 7 at the YMCA.
Q: You’re like instant offense when you enter the game. Do you like coming off the bench?
A: It doesn’t matter to me. I do whatever’s best for the team. Just winning is what matters to me.
Q: What’s been your biggest basketball thrill so far?
A: I’d say right now it’s Tyler Bradford’s buzzer-beating basket at the top of the key at the end against Waterford at home last year. It was crazy.
Q: Did you get the assist?
A: (Smiles) I think I did. I’m not sure though. I don’t remember.
Q: Who’s been influential in your development as a Fort Frye athlete?
A: My dad.
He’s always been there and taught me a lot of life’s skills and how to play the game of baseball and basketball.
Q: What do you do off the playing fields in the fall?
A: Usually, I play fall baseball or fall basketball. I’m always either hitting in a cage or shooting a basketball.
Q: Who’s your favorite MLB team?
A: Cleveland Indians. (Smiles) I’m an Indians fan.
Q: How about basketball?
A: The Cavaliers.
Q: Even without LeBron?
A: Yeah, I still support them without him.
Q: Being a senior, is there anything you’d like to shout out?
A: Uh, just keep the Fort Frye tradition going. And I’d like to thank my family for always being there for me.
Q: Your family actually resides in Marietta, not far from the Duckworths?
A: (Smiles) Like 20 seconds away. When I was younger, we lived in Devola, and then we moved when I was about 4.
Ron Johnston, email@example.com