|Championship Completes Turnaround|
By Kyle Knopp
With many Baltimore area baseball fans focused on Calvert Hall winning their fifth straight MIAA A Conference championship, some tend to overlook the story of the St. Frances varsity baseball team. St. Frances, who is often known for their great basketball program, was led to their first non-basketball championship when the baseball program won the C Conference championship.
Coach Brian Boles, who played for the Panthers in the baseball program’s first season back in 2000, took over as head coach five years ago. In his first season, St. Frances only won two games. His team hadn’t won more than nine games in a season until this year, when the Panthers went 21-6.
“During the five-year process, you always believed but you didn’t know,” Boles said about the hardships of those first few years. “We won nine games last season. The first season we won two games, then four games and then seven games in the third season. Now we won 21; it’s been a huge turnaround.”
Boles attributed lack of commitment and dedication in the first couple of seasons to the tribulations of the program. He cites not living up to the expectations of the team as the reason for the turnaround this year.
“We started from day one of school with training and conditioning. Our motto from the beginning was, ‘championships are won before the game is played’ and we used that to work through the adversity that we faced.”
When Boles was a student at St. Frances, the baseball program was just beginning. He had to play for a different coach each year. Even though he is one of four players from the school to play baseball in college, Boles feels if he had a coach who worked with him all four years, he would have had the chance to go further.
Boles now tries to be a mentor for his players, helping them advance to college and possibly the pros. Aside from coaching, Boles is a regional scout for the Detroit Tigers in the Baltimore area, but working with his players is where his heart is.
“I have the best job in the world,” said Boles. “I work for the best president a coach could want. She’ll find a way to get what we need to be successful. I’m proud of my guys, they worked hard. Having players like Devin Hill, Darrell Anderson and Devante Brown makes your job easier.”
And Boles believes the players make the team. To him, it is up to the kids to choose how they live their life.
“They all have a future, it’s decided by them how hard they decide to work,” said Boles. “It’s theirs for the taking. I always tell the kids ‘don’t be a victim of your own talent’ and to not waste what you were given.
“I would like to get the best players from the city of Baltimore and the surrounding counties to come to St. Frances. It’s the players who continue to develop and grow. But, regardless of what you know, if you don’t have the hard work and dedication, you are a failure in a sense.”
To Boles, coaching teaches kids life experiences and prepares them for the future. One day he would like to coach at the college level, but his work is not finished at St. Frances. He would not be able to leave until he was sure the baseball program was in good hands.
Posted June 16, 2009