Baseball players receive state rings


Hayden Dux, Sports Editor

The Platoon packed the stands and cheered vigorously on Friday, Oct. 21. Although the Chantilly vs. Briar Woods matchup had not yet started, shouts rang out for a different reason. Alongside the preparing football players, players from Chantilly’s 2016 6A state champion baseball team lined up to receive their long-awaited state rings.

Though the championship contest against Battlefield High School was won nearly five months earlier, the ring ceremony was scheduled in order to accommodate the schedules of the team’s players. While a few are returning for their senior year at Chantilly, over half of last year’s team has graduated. Of the 20-player roster, only two were absent: former infielder Brett Norwood, who currently attends and plays baseball at South Florida State College, and former pitcher Branden Kim, who attends the University of Virginia. During the waiting period, head coach Kevin Ford added to the suspense by refusing to reveal the rings until the day of the ceremony – and according to the players, the wait was worth it.

“The whole team was really excited to see how the rings would turn out, and they look amazing,” senior and pitcher Robert Sallberg said. “They’re even bigger than we expected they would be.”

Sallberg’s sentiments are echoed throughout the team. During the ceremony, administrators Corey Bowerman and Teresa Johnson, coupled with Ford and the baseball staff, met the players at midfield with a name announcement, handshake and a black box. Upon opening the boxes, the team’s excitement became apparent. Thrusting the rings onto fingers and admiring the new hardware, the players struggled to contain wide grins with parents and relatives gathering nearby.

“A lot of us flew or drove in straight from our respective colleges, but the long wait and the travel was definitely worth it,” Chantilly alum and current freshman outfielder at Holy Cross University Jared Enders said. “The rings are definitely icy, but they are also a symbol of memories made during the season that we can hold onto for a lifetime.”

While the rings commemorate the memories made during a grueling but rewarding season, they also give even more meaningful in the context of Chantilly’s history. While the school has put together highly respected athletic programs for decades, the 2016 state title is Chantilly’s first baseball state championship in its nearly five decades of existence.

“This past year, we were blessed with the opportunity to make history and represent our school in a memorable way,” junior and infielder Christian Parana said. “We love the rings, but now it is time to focus and prepare for the upcoming year so we can continue Chantilly baseball’s winning standard.”

For last year’s seniors, the rings punctuate a final chapter of Chantilly baseball that included three state championship appearances, as well as multiple conference and region titles. However, as many pursue new activities in college or continue to compete athletically, it is up to the returning players and up-and-coming Chargers to carry on a strong tradition. Replacing nearly the entire starting lineup, the team will have to rely heavily on their offseason preparation and abundant youth heading into the spring. With talented though untested athletes, nothing about the upcoming season is guaranteed; however, one thing is for certain: from working for a state ring to building memories with teammates, varsity baseball will compete to carry on a tradition of excellence that Ford has dubbed “the Chantilly Way.”