A year ago, Florida A&M University (FAMU) baseball senior pitchers Kyle Coleman and Josh Hancock were preparing for life after college and a shot at playing professionally.
But after 15 games, the 2020 season ended when FAMU Athletics cancelled the spring sports season due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Having the 2020 season cut short was nothing less than heartbreaking,” Coleman said.
The Rattlers were coming off a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) championship season and had high expectations for a repeat. Coleman recalled when the decision was announced; you could hear the air leave the roof.
“We had worked so hard coming into that season and all we wanted to do was play,” Coleman said. “Now we have the opportunity to play for a championship this year.”
Coleman, a native of St. Cloud, Fla., recorded a team-high 20 strikeouts in just four appearances in 2020. The right-hander was being heavily scouted by several professional teams after helping FAMU win the 2019 MEAC Tournament Championship.
Hancock also entered the 2020 season with high expectations. He shared Coleman’s frustration and disappointment about the abrupt ending to the 2020 season.
“I didn’t know if I would ever get to play in another meaningful game since that was my senior year,” said the Altamonte Springs, Fla., native.
Hancock was second on the team with 18 strikeouts last season, but it was his love for the game and a chance to play professionally that brought him back for an extra season.
“Obviously, I have the same dream every little kid has to be drafted and play professional baseball and coming back gave me that opportunity to keep chasing that little boy’s dream,” he said.
While both players are excited to be back, Hancock said he wasn’t so fortunate to avoid COVID-19. He contracted the virus on his birthday in September.
“Luckily, my symptoms weren’t bad, so I felt okay, but it was pretty boring spending your birthday alone,” said Hancock. “Thankfully, the rest of my family did not get the virus.”
Coleman has escaped infection thus far, but a sibling wasn’t so was lucky.
“My younger brother is the only one in my family to have contracted COVID and his symptoms were very mild, only a small headache,” Coleman said.
Both players are delighted to get an extra year of eligibility. While Hancock leads the team in victories (four) and strikeouts, Coleman has struggled to regain his rhythm on the mound. Both are expected to play an integral role in the team’s success for the rest of the season.
The Rattlers have 21 games remaining before playing in their final MEAC Baseball Tournament. Florida A&M will face North Carolina Central (April 23-25) and North Carolina A&T State (May 7-9) at Moore-Kittles Field.