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Hard work and dedication keys Schnelly's success

Saturday, May 26, 2007

May 26, 2007

Abraham Lincoln once said, "My greatest concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure."

For Lipscomb baseball player, Matt Schnelly, the road to success had never come easily. Schnelly began his baseball career at the age of ten, perhaps a little later than most. Because he was always big for his age, Schnelly spent his early years in Little League, mostly in the outfield before taking on first base.

At the age of 14, Schnelly made his first All Star team. A year later, he qualified and played in a tournament in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

"Throughout the years Matt sat the bench many times, but I encouraged him to keep his head up and keep working hard," Matt's mother, Linda Schnelly said. "He learned to sit the bench and cheer on his team as well as how to both win and lose gracefully."

After trying out for the JV baseball team at Santaluces High School in Lantana, FL, as a freshman and getting cut, a determined Schnelly approached the head coach and asked what it would take for him to make the team the following season. The coach's response was simple: velocity.

Intent on improving, Schnelly then met with his former Recreational League coach, Jimmy Breslin, who put him on a work out program and placed him on three travel teams that year. When Schnelly returned for tryouts as a Sophomore he had grown a foot and made the team as a first basemen. That season he played every game at first, never missing an out.

As a Junior, Schnelly was promoted to the Varsity team, this time as a pitcher. He threw only eight innings that year, all in relief. The summer after his junior season, Schnelly played American Legion and worked with former Montreal Expos pitcher, Jeff Fisher, on his pitching skills.

When Schnelly returned for his Senior season, the number one and two pitchers on the team had been injured, and Schnelly, the inexperienced pitcher who had never started on a regular basis was thrust into the role of staff ace. It was role in which he excelled, winning 10 of 11 games.

However, before Schnelly had even thrown a pitch during his Senior season, he caught the eye of Broward Community College, head coach, Bob Deutschman, at an FAU baseball clinic and was signed to a full scholarship.

After his freshman year at Broward Community College, Schnelly began volunteering as an American Legion Post 164 Coach. For the next three summers he taught high school freshmen and sophomores to pitch the way he had been taught.

Schnelly signed with Lipscomb as a junior and finished his first season as a Bison leading the team in innings pitched (96) and strikeouts (91).

Now, with the Bisons 4-1 loss to Gardner-Webb in the conference tournament on Friday, May 25, 2007, Schnelly's collegiate career is over and he is preparing for what he hopes will be the next big step; professional baseball.

With several MLB teams interested in the Bisons' big 6'8" right-hander, the Lipscomb baseball program may have their second player drafted in as many seasons, after Tadd Brewer was drafted by the Anaheim Angels last year. Schnelly's teammates ,Casey Bond and John King, may draw scouts' interests as well.

Schnelly was once told by his high school coach that he would first need to increase his velocity to become a member of the Santaluces High School baseball team. At full stride during his collegiate career, scouts clocked Schnelly as high as 98-99 mph, one scout clocking Schnelly at 100 mph twice in the same game.

The 22-year-old right-hander, who will be intently watching the television screen when the MLB draft is aired on ESPN for the first time on Thursday, June 7, is a far cry from the young kid who did not make his high school baseball team.

Although his talent had never been in question it was his additional hard work that allowed Schnelly to overcome his early obstacles and evolve into the pitcher he is today. And with his collegiate career now over, and his sights now turned to the approaching MLB draft, Schnelly is hoping his baseball career is only beginning.

For Schnelly, seven years have passed since he did not make his high school JV team, and both nothing and everything has changed. He is still the baseball player who has to work hard for his every success and who is still not detoured by the impending obstacles in his path. But he is no longer the player who struggled to make his high school team, but the pitcher whose hard work transformed him into a staff ace.

For Schnelly it is as Frank Lloyd Wright once said, "I know the price of success: dedication, hard work, and an unremitting devotion to the things you want to see happen."