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Get closer to the CWS squads with tidbits few people know
Before they take the field in Omaha at the College World Series, teams have to meet other obligations. On Thursday, the CWS teams took time to talk with the media, including NCAA.com's Douglas Kroll. Here's what they had to say when asked, "What's one thing people may not know about you?”
|STONY BROOK SEAWOLVES|
Head Coach Matt Senk
Cortland State (1980) Profile
“All through high school and even the beginning of college, hockey was my number one sport. I played ice hockey, I played some junior hockey, and played in college for a year and a half. That’s when I went over to baseball full time but hockey was my sport; I was a center. I scored a few goals but I was more of an assist guy. Actually, I was able to play with my younger brother, who went on to play professionally in Europe for a while. He was the goal-scorer and I was the assist guy. It was a great combination.”
It's a fact: Academically, more than 90 percent of Senk's players have graduated and moved into successful careers or graduate school.
Infielder Maxx Tissenbaum
Junior | Toronto, Ontario Profile
“When I was a kid – like 3 years old – I went to a gym class and they were shooting a Bell Telephone commercial. For some reason, I walked up to the producer when I saw all the cameras and I said, ‘I want to be in a commercial.’ He figured it out and I ended up being in it. Then I got calls from casting agents and ended up doing commercials and movies from that time until I was about 14. I was in a bunch of commercials. I did Chrysler, McDonald’s, Sears, Kentucky Fried Chicken – which was a lot of fun. We were just sitting around a table and we got to eat these Chicken Dippers all day long. I think I turned green from eating so many of them. There were also a couple of movies – smaller ones – that I did. It was a pretty cool experience to be on set.”
It's a fact: Tissenbaum was chosen by the San Diego Padres in the 11th round of 2012 MLB Draft.
Coach John Savage
Nevada (1991) Profile
“June 6th has been a big day in my life. I was drafted out of high school in 1983. Back then, nobody knew when you were going drafted or who was getting drafted but the Yankees called that night and I also graduated that night so that was certainly exciting. Several years later I got drafted again on June 6th in 1986 by the Reds. I got married on June 6th, and that was exciting. And then I won a national championship as the pitching coach at USC in 1998 on June 6th. I wish it was June 6th [Friday night]. June 6th has always been a special day in my heart.”
It's a fact: Savage played with the independent league's Salt Lake Trappers for two seasons. In 1987 he was part of a team that won professional baseball record with 29 consecutive victories.
Infielder Pat Valaika
Sophomore | Valencia, Calif. Profile
“One thing most of the guys on the team don't know about me is that I love to read. Some of my favorite books are Lone Survivor and The Hunger Games -- just read all those pretty quickly. I don't think too many on the team know that.”
It's a fact: Valaika has two older brothers in professional baseball -- Chris and Matt. Chris made his pro debut with the Cincinnati Reds in Aug. 2010 and Matt is in the plays in the St. Louis Cardinals' minor league organization.
|FLORIDA STATE SEMINOLES|
Coach Mike Martin
Florida State (1966) Profile
“People know that in the offseason I play a lot of golf. Many people think that I’m a very good player just because I play a lot. But my handicap has gone from a six to a 15. I’m taking a lot of grief for it. Many people say to me ‘You don’t have that problem in golf.’ And I want to look at them and say ‘Man, I’m a legitimate 15.’ I can attribute it to lack of talent mainly. There are no excuses with me. I’ve had two shoulder surgeries, a couple of knee surgeries. But I’m not one to make excuses. It’s all about the talent issue – it is what it is. Now, I will say that it will not stop me from playing. I will be out there every time I get the chance when our season is over.”
It's a fact: He has been associated with the Seminoles for 40 of the program's 65 seasons - as a player, assistant coach and head coach.
Infielder Sherman Johnson
Senior | Tampa, Fla. Profile
“I hate vegetables. I don’t eat them. I’m just a picky eater in general. If there’s something green on the table when we go out I won’t eat it at all. We had lunch yesterday and there were sandwiches everywhere that had lettuce and tomato. All I ate was strawberries. The guys were telling me to eat and making fun of me. When I was little my dad was trying to get me to eat cabbage. One night he told me I was going to sit at the table until I ate it. I sat at that table all night.”
It's a fact: He was drafted by the L.A. Angels in the 14th round.
Coach Andy Lopez
UCLA (1975) Profile
“Something I get hammered about all the time and my wife loves it – I eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a granola bar and a piece of fruit every day of my life. It never changes for lunch. For 29 years my wife asks me ‘How can you do that?’ But I eat the same exact thing every day. I’ve been off balance the last couple of days – I need to find some. I change the jellies every now and then.”
It's a fact: He is one of only ten active coaches to have won a national championship, as well as one of only three coaches to lead three different programs to the College World Series.
Infielder Seth Mejias-Brean
Junior | Tucson, Ariz. Profile
“I really like to bowl. My highest score is a 278. We had a little thing with my roommates last year is that we’d go bowling a lot. You need to put some spin on it. Last year we went every Tuesday, but this year I’ve only been a couple times.”
It's a fact: He constantly talks to himself during games.
Coach Dave Van Horn
Arkansas (1982) Profile
“I go pheasant hunting once a year in South Dakota. My wife says it’s a good thing because I always come back with a lot better attitude. It’s kind of a stress reliever for me. When I was coaching at Nebraska I got invited a couple times on pheasant hunts – I like how much you walk. Usually we go in late November and hunt for three or four days.”
It's a fact: Van Horn could earn a $100,000 bonus if the Razorbacks win the CWS.
Pitcher Colby Suggs
Sophomore | Sulphur Springs, Texas Profile
“I was an offensive lineman in high school – I was a center. My junior year we actually won the state championship in Texas – 4A. I was up to 250, 260 pounds back then and was about 240 when I got to Arkansas but then I started getting into the strength and condition program here.”
It's a fact: He played for the Forest City Owls of the Coastal Plain League.
|KENT STATE GOLDEN FLASHES|
Coach Scott Stricklin
Kent State (1995) Profile
“I threw a surprise 40th birthday for my wife on June 9th. I planned it a year in advance – I hired a blues band out of Nashville to come up to Kent, Ohio. I looked at the schedule and saw it was the Super Regionals and knew Kent State had never been to the Super Regionals and we lost six players to the draft last year – I hate to say it but I figured we were safe to have this party. Two-hundred friends and family were invited and literally when we were on the field jumping up and down on the field in Gary, Ind., thirty seconds into it I went ‘Oh no.’ My wife likes to travel with us and I had to convince her she couldn’t come with us to Eugene, Ore. She was really angry with me and I tried to massage it – I had to tip her off that we had something planned for her. I was able to wish her a happy birthday on national television and we won Saturday night, on her birthday.”
It's a fact: Stricklin played for Kent State from 1991–1993 and played minor league baseball from 1993–1997.
Infielder George Roberts
Junior | Summerhill, Pa. Profile
“A lot of people don’t know that I can do a back flip. I’ve been doing it since I was little – my cousins were cheerleaders so they were able to teach me how to do it. I’ve done it a couple times on the field before home games.”
It's a fact: His brother Rick was drafted in the 10th round by the Detroit Tigers in 1999.
Coach Kevin O'Sullivan
Virginia (1991) Profile
“I have two golden retrievers, Max and Cooper. I’ve always had goldens – four of them. It’s just something that for the last 15 years or so, I’ve always had a friendly golden retriever companion.”
It's a fact: O'Sullivan married former Barbara Jo Davis on New Year's Eve 2009.
Infielder Brian Johnson
Junior | Cocoa Beach, Fla. Profile
“When I was growing up before I played tee-ball, I was right-handed and my dad made me left-handed. My older brother and sister were right-handed and my dad would always tell me they were doing it wrong. I do everything today right-handed except baseball. I write, bowl, everything right-handed.”
It's a fact: Johnson also played for the collegiate national Team USA baseball squad in the summer of 2010.
|SOUTH CAROLINA GAMECOCKS|
Coach Ray Tanner
NC State (1980) Profile
“I played baseball at North Carolina State and was a young assistant there. In 1983, the late Jimmy Valvano won the national championship with the basketball team and three or four years later he became director of athletics. I was only 27 and our baseball coach retired and he hired me as the coach. A man so many people had tremendous respect for after winning that national championship. He gave me that opportunity even though I probably didn’t have enough experience for it. He put his hands around my neck in a choking matter and he said ‘You better win or I’ll kill you.’ So I was motivated to be a good coach.”
It's a fact: Tanner has led USC to three consecutive College World Series appearances in 2002, 2003 and 2004 and three consecutive College World Series appearances in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
Infielder LB Dantzler
Junior | Winter Haven, Fla. Profile
“Coming out of high school I really didn’t have any college offers from Division I programs. I had a few junior colleges – some people may think that was the route I chose but I didn’t really have a choice. I really wanted to play in the SEC – my dad played at Florida – and now I got the opportunity to play here.”
It's a fact: He keeps his pet fish Reptar in a Tupperware container in the Gamecock bullpen under the supervision of reliever Patrick Sullivan.