Missouri Baseball Focuses on 'Togetherness'

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COLUMBIA - Missouri baseball head coach, Tim Jamieson said the team had a lot of issues with togetherness during the 2013 season, its first year in the Southeastern Conference (SEC). Jamieson was in his nineteenth season of coaching at MU, and the team ended the season with 18 wins and 32 losses overall.

Just a year before, in 2012, the team claimed its first ever Big 12 Tournament title, then something changed.

 "It wasn't a family. It wasn't guys pulling for the team, it was a collection of individuals," said Jamieson. "I know some guys on the team didn't want to be around each other for a long time," said senior catcher, Dylan Kelly. Jamieson said the players realized the lack of togetherness was working against them on the field and decided to work on growing closer to each other.

Junior pitcher, Brett Graves guided his team to a state championship in 2011 at Francis Howell High School. He said he was close with his high school teammates on and off the field because they made a point to be with each other and attend Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) together. "I had a closer bond with the guys I was with doing that so I thought it'd be a good idea to bring that here and just try to get closer as a team, closer to Jesus. That's the ultimate goal."

 "Me, as a baseball player, I put life in perspective. Baseball doesn't consume me. And I wanted everyone else to see that when baseball doesn't consume you, you're so much more free with anything you want to do," said Kelly. Graves, Kelly, and junior pitcher, Jace James are a few of the older players who initiated weekly dinner hangouts and Bible studies.

Graves said the team began meeting at players' homes once a week. Everybody brought something to contribute to the meal, and the team ate and watched television. Kelly said he knew everyone would be interested in sharing meals together. After they ate, they went to a different house for a one or two hour Bible study. "We'd tell everybody who wanted to come, come on, and if you don't, that's perfectly okay," said Graves.

The first time the team met, more than twenty players stayed for the bible study. Kelly said he found some sermons from his church in Georgia he to share.

"There was a message coming out about the past, present, and future, and I thought it would be a good service for the team to listen to," said Kelly. Kelly said they listened to the sermon and talked briefly about what everybody thought. "We got deeper and deeper every week," said Kelly. "Some people spoke their mind and said some things they didn't think they were going to say until they actually said it. It was awesome to be there."

 "I think they realize that for us to have a great season we need to be able to be a family,"
 said Jamieson. "That was the kind of initial thought behind it, but I think the idea of helping everybody more-so in the long run I think was the baseline," said Graves.