As Chandler Newman and Chaise Parker got ready to sign their national letters of intent Thursday afternoon, Wildcats baseball coach Stacy Bennett called the crowd that filled the Richmond Hill High School media center Wednesday a testament to the seniors.
“Character and selflessness, those two things have really been the cornerstone of us having the success we’ve had these last few years, and these two guys represent that to the fullest,” Bennett said. “They’ve been phenomenal teammates, and their character goes without question. Those two things are why you see so many people here.”
Minutes later, the two signed: Newman inked to pitch at nearby Georgia Southern and Parker, a shortstop, signed with Emmanuel College near Roswell.
Both said the opportunities were what they’d been preparing for their entire baseball careers.
“It feels great just getting the opportunity to play for Georgia Southern is a blessing,” said Newman, who plans on studying business communications. “Coach (Rodney) Hennon and his coaching staff have that program going the right way, and their joining the Sun Belt really got my interest up. It’s pretty cool.”
Parker said playing college baseball at Emmanuel College was where he was meant to be.
“It felt right, felt like that’s where God wanted me to spend my next four years,” he said.
Parker, who wants to major in kinesiology or physical therapy, thanked his family and coaches “for al they’ve given me” – Michael and Jennifer Parker, Mitchell Westberry, Bennett and Tony Miner.
Newman also thanked family members and coaches, but had one guy he really wanted to thank.
“My dad, he drilled me, he was huge, he helped me get through everything,” Newman said of Earl Newman. “My whole family and my coaches, they really helped and they’ve been behind me 100 percent, but he’s up there, he’s been behind me the whole time.”
Both players say now they can work on their senior seasons without having to worry about where they’ll go to school. Bennett pointed out something else, too.
“They have goals,” he said. “They had goals as freshmen, as eighth graders, they knew the sacrifices it would take. Their parents knew it, too. They sacrificed their time, they sacrificed going out with friends, they sacrificed their summers, all to get to this point. Now they get to go out and have a good senior year, then move on and play three-four more years of baseball.”