Below is one in a series called Parker County Senior Spotlights, which highlights local spring-sport athletes whose final year of high school athletics has been affected by closures stemming from the COVID-19 virus.
Today’s Senior Spotlight is on Springtown baseball’s Ethan Smith.
Question: What has the opportunity to play baseball afforded you in life?
Answer: Baseball has done so much for me in life. When I was 4 years old my parents introduced me to the sport that I would start dedicating so much time and effort to. Even before I was able to play, I was at the ballfields watching my dad play for our church group and watched my older brother play. Playing for this long and having my family behind me, everyone just loves this sport, we are definitely a die hard baseball family. We’re so die hard that for three years in a row we were season ticket holders for the Fort Worth Cats baseball team and with that, we even hosted in our home six different players from the team all throughout those three years. After the Cats organization folded, we turned to MLB and started traveling the country going to different stadiums and even the baseball Hall of Fame. Not only have I gotten luxury out of baseball but with it being a team sport, I have been able to build my character with it as well. Going through little league and small town ball, it was pretty easy to see the more dedicated players and all my coaches growing up and even my high school coaches would say, that would be me. I have always been a team player, a leader and good role model on and off the field. With it being my senior year, my coaches even expected me to step up and motivate, encourage and push the team when they were not looking. I have even gone on to teach my little brother and my 2 year old nephew how to play the game.
Q: What are your thoughts on playing at the next level?
A: With it being my senior year, I really started thinking about college ball, but I really wasn’t sure if it was for me. During the summer of my junior year I went to a college showcase, which had 112 college coaches from all over the country. I had five out of those 112 looking at me and sadly they were all out of state schools that wouldn’t be able to attend, due to my degree path (including Yale, I mean come on). So I took the information, constructive criticism and comments given to me by those coaches and pushed myself to be better for my senior season. Right now I am planning to attend Paris Junior College, to get EMT certification and an EMS Paramedics associate’s degree. My ultimate goal is to be a firefighter and serve in the community. My baseball plans I hope include playing baseball for PJC. I filled out the baseball recruitment form and have contacted the coach, but due to COVID-19 they do not know how the season will turn out and what their plan is for next season.
Q: As a student-athlete whose final high school season has been affected by COVID-19, what is your mentality in regard to getting through this experience?
A: The best mentality I can say to all seniors, not just the ones that are athletes since every one of us are affected, is keep looking forward. Yes, it’s a bummer that 25 percent of our senior year got taken from us, but stay positive. For the athletes, take this as an opportunity to get better. Just think of it as everything else is set on hold for us to get faster, stronger and more mentally prepared for the next stage of our lives. I like what Coach [Josh] Ward, our head coach said, ‘Just think that we’re district champs because with all this there’s no way of telling.’ On the flip side however, it’s truly sad, because Springtown had a chance to go far in baseball and that’s a lot to think about considering that we’re in one of the toughest baseball districts in Texas with two state qualifiers. We also are sad because the baseball program was really looking forward to backing up our football, having gone the furthest in history this year in the playoffs (shout out to Springtown football). In 2019, Springtown graduated nine senior varsity ball players, so 2020 was our turn to shine. We had built a perfect storm; one of our baseball coaches returned, so we had three amazing coaches dedicated to giving it their all through Coach Ward’s leadership. We had three seniors ready to lead (Gage Crites, Aaron Foster and myself), while behind us a great group of talented young players made up a really athletic and cohesive team. Best of luck to all the 2020 graduates, we are a class that won’t be forgotten.