Player Perspectives: Injured Camner guides underclassmen

Eli Camner, Junior, Baseball

There is no better feeling in the world for a baseball player than stepping out onto the diamond for the opening day of his season.  About six weeks ago, I arrived with my teammates at Washington College in Maryland for our opening day doubleheader, eager to get the season started on the right foot. 

In the second inning of the game with two outs, I got a ball hit to me in foul territory. The ball was tailing away from the line, so I had to dive. Upon impact, I tore my left labrum in three places and was told that I would be out for the season and needed to get surgery on June 4. 

Over the next few days, all I could think about was how hard I had worked and how I was going to let my seniors down. As a junior, I have been a starter since my freshman year and played with Jim (Jimmy Smith), Mike (Cardelle), Shane (Nowak), and Ben (Sam Bennett) in every game. I felt awful that I was not going to be there for their senior season while knowing that I would have impacted the team on the diamond.

Everyone that loves the game of baseball loves it for different reasons. For me, I love the intensity, energy, and competitive attitudes of the game. I love knowing that you worked and grinded with your teammates around you, and that they have your back and are ready to go to war with you. Although I was no longer playing, I continued to feel this energy from the game, and decided that I would have a different role on the team: I would continue to utilize this energy and intensity on the bench, supporting my teammates. 

Although I was forced into this role, I might as well embrace it. It has given me a unique perspective on the game, which has enlightened me on certain aspects of the game that I have never noticed before, which will ultimately turn me into a better and more well-rounded player.  

Whenever a starter gets hurt, someone needs to step up and fill in the role as a starter. So far, sophomores and freshmen have replaced me and have done an excellent job. I realize that I cannot be out there on the diamond, so I might as well help make the person taking the role better each and every day. At the same time, a loud voice on the bench can make a world of difference to your teammates and the overall environment of the game. 

It is extremely important to us at Roger Williams baseball to support and encourage our teammates, so making sure we stay loud on the bench is of paramount importance. Being intense and loud on the bench not only helps support teammates and the overall culture of the team, but also keeps players in the proper mindset if they are called into the game. 

Nevertheless, we fully trust our bench guys to come into the game at any time and have a positive impact for the team. It is ingrained in the team’s culture to always be ready to compete and to be mentally prepared to enter the game in any given situation.

Recently, the baseball team has been playing exceptionally well, beating the No. 4 team in the country and starting off conference play with a 5-1 record, tied for first overall place in the Commonwealth Coast Conference. 

As a team, we have begun to bring together pitching, hitting, and defense, and impending all three for gametime. Although the team has been faced with injuries throughout the season, we have the right guys in line to fill roles and perform at a high level. 

My doctor, surgeon, and trainer said that I would not be able to return, but I continue to work each and every day, whether with my physical therapist or with the Roger Williams athletic training staff, to get more range of mobility on my shoulder. If my doctors are correct and I cannot play for the entire season, I know that my boys will play the hardest and to their best ability, hopefully holding onto the No. 1 overall ranking in the conference.  

Please continue to come out and support the Hawks as we continue through our season. Your continued loud and rowdy support fires us up at every game, so keep it up and roll Hawks, baby!