May 10, 2011
By Scott Kotick, Seminoles.com
Throughout the course of their careers, Florida State student-athletes will inevitably miss certain memorable events that most students take for granted.
Whether it’s a soccer game over homecoming weekend, or even a basketball tournament over winter break.
So when it came time for the nine baseball seniors to miss graduation exercises due to a weekend series at Miami, Florida State University President Dr. Eric J. Barron made sure that they were honored in a special commencement ceremony on Mike Martin Field before Saturday evening’s game against UCF.
“And I saw all the parents, and grandparents, three generations all to get their pictures taken,” President Barron said. “Cap and gown, baseball uniform underneath the gown, that was just fun.”
“I didn’t expect that, because they told us a little while ago that we were going to have something,” senior Mike McGee said. “But they had him (President Barron) out there, we moved the tassels over, so it was official and really neat. I’m really happy that we got to do that.”
No one could be happier for the nine seniors than head coach Mike Martin, who has always stressed the importance of academics in his 32 years as head coach of the Seminoles.
“I’m just very proud of each and every one of our players, but to see them graduate on the field, with their caps on, switching the tassels, it was just a big moment for me,” Martin said. “This is what baseball at Florida State has always been about: it’s academics first and baseball second. These young men are a credit to their families and this great institution.”
“Nine guys to share the experience with, you couldn’t ask for anything better,” senior pitcher Daniel Bennett said. “And with President Barron talking about how good we were in academics as well as on the field, it just shows you how dedicated we are in the classroom.”
And that dedication has helped Mike Martin’s Seminoles cement themselves as one of the top performing teams at Florida State both on the field and in the classroom–something that has impressed one of the biggest baseball fans at Florida State.
“I love this baseball team, they’re good students, they work hard, and they play well,” Barron said. “So Molly and I have really enjoyed watching as many games as we can, so to go out on the field and stand there with those seniors was just great.”
“It’s awesome and it really was a great thing,” McGee said. “I really enjoyed it and hopefully they’ll start doing this ceremony every year, because it means a lot to the seniors and it just means a lot to get recognized.”
So as Mike McGee looks back on this day years down the road, it’s doubtful he’ll remember it as the night he hit his 50th career home run–it was a grand slam by the way.
He’ll reminisce and remember it not only as the evening he graduated from Florida State, but as the moment he got to share that with eight members of his Seminole baseball family.