DuBOIS — It’s often said all good things must come to an end, and that will be the case this week when 10 seniors put on their uniforms and lace up their cleats for their final games for the Penn State DuBois baseball program at the USCAA Small College World Series.
Eight of those seniors — Austin Amacher, Garrett Brown, Clayton Butler, Brandon Gettig, Bryce Hanley, Jesse Martin, Colton Treaster and Thomas Plummer — have been with program since its inception in the fall of 2015. Fellow seniors John White and Shane Haberberger transferred into the program and have been on the field the last two seasons.
As for that core group of eight seniors, they are the first four-year group to come through the program under the tutelage of head coach Tom Calliari and look to go out in style with another strong showing in what will be their fourth USCAA World Series appearance.
During that time, they have done nothing but win, leading the program to a record 105-51 in its first four years of existence. DuBois, which has won back-to-back PSUAC championships, has posted a record of 7-5 in three trips — including 4-1 a year ago at Showers Field when it built The Apprentice School, 10-2, in the if-necessary title came to capture its first national title.
Brown, Gettig and Butler have been four-year starters for Calliari, while the other seniors have contributed when called upon as role players.
“I’m very proud of those guys,” said Calliari of his seniors. “They’ve meant a lot to the program, and they are the foundation of our program and have built it on concrete not sand.
“Our seniors have been great mentors, and it’s exciting for the young guys and knowing they are learning how to keep the standard and mentor the next group coming in.”
Brown and Gettig echoed their coach’s thoughts when it comes to being a senior leadership and being a mentor.
“It all starts with good leaders,” said Brown. “Coach (Calliari) always picks good leaders, and when become a senior you have to embrace that role. All of the guys who have been here since Day 1 all have accepted that role and embraced it.And, I think that is a big part of our success as a team — having good leaders.”
“I have to say we were fortunate to have good leaders come before us here and kind of show us the way,” added Gettig. “But, it is a different environment and different type of role you have to accept when you’re the old guy. It (leadership) comes with a lot of responsibility, but also is a privilege. We’ve seen a lot of development in the guys beneath us just in the one or two years they have been here with us.
“You see those guys get better because they want to be here, and that’s the environment we’ve created here where its family more so than just being a team. I think that helps guys develop even more than you thought they would.”
That “family” environment helped bring Gettig back after he left for the main campus at University Park at the beginning of his junior year as he tried to figure out his future in the classroom.
“I was unsure (of a major) at that time, and when I made up my mind, my major allowed me to come back here (2nd semester of junior year),” he said. “The hardest part about going to University Park was leaving this, I had things I was excited for there, but at the same time it was hard walking away from something that had been a huge part of my life the two years before that.”
Gettig’s return in the spring of last year was well worth it, as he played a key role in the run to the national title.
As for Brown, a DuBois Area High School graduate, he said it’s been great continuing his baseball career in his home town and helping build what the program has become.
“The fans come in here (Showers Field) and bring a great atmosphere for the program, and that makes it easy for us to go out and compete,” said Brown. “It was hard at first. You have to build (program) from the ground up, and I knew we had the right guy with Coach Calliari.
“I’ve played for him since I was 13 years, and when he asked me to play here, I was like no one is going to bring a winning program better then he will. He’s brought in some great coaches that have helped us succeed.
“I think that is the biggest reason we are successful, because we have one of the best coaching staffs in the country — whether its D-I or what. Because of that staff, I think this team can play with just about any team in the country.”
The bond between Calliari and Brown goes well beyond a baseball field, something Brown acknowledged as the two go to battle together one last time.
“Making this run with Coach has been really special,” Brown said. “He’s been my mentor and definitely helped me in my toughest times. He’s given me opportunities that just about nobody else would every give me.
“He’s been a big role model to me and taught me to be competitive, to be myself and to just go out and have fun. I’m just looking forward to emptying the tank and going out with a bang this week.”
That’s the goal of everyone associated with the program — to go out with that “bang” Brown spoke and deliver a second national title to a special group of seniors.