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May 23, 2013

Four Clintondale baseball players excel in the classroom

By Jason Carmel Davis
C & G Sports Writer

» click to enlarge «
Clinton Township Clintondale senior pitcher/shortstop Jacob Babbitt will graduate at the top of his class this year. Babbitt is pictured during a May 13 Clintondale Community Schools Board of Education meeting.
Clinton Township Clintondale senior first baseman and three of his teammates will graduate at the top of their class this year. Romanchek is pictured during a 2012 game against Center Line.
 

CLINTON TOWNSHIP — A group of players Clinton Township Clintondale baseball coach Dave Schindler tasked with leading the Dragons have proven to be standouts in the classroom, too.

Clintondale senior pitcher/shortstop Jacob Babbitt and senior first baseman Jacob Romanchek are ranked one-two in the Clintondale senior class, as far as grade point average goes. Senior catcher Richard Jeczen is the third-ranked student in the Dragons’ senior class, and senior pitcher/shortstop Jacob Roy is the sixth-ranked student in the graduating class.

Dragons assistant baseball coach — and head basketball coach — Rob Townsend said the academic success doesn’t stop there. Townsend said Clintondale athletes are at, or near, the top of the sophomore and junior classes.

Babbitt, Romanchek and Jeczen were honored during a recent Clintondale Community Schools Board of Education meeting.

“There’s been plenty of late nights,” Romanchek said. “A lot of times when you get home, it’s just homework, food and sleep.”

All four of the scholars recognize the strain in balancing academics and athletics. Each also works a part-time job and admitted to cutting their shifts down in order to concentrate on school.

Each player said they had been working about 20 hours a week before scaling their hours back.

The balancing act also continues at school, where the boys admitted to doing homework while in other classes as a way to maximize time.

“If you have a job, you might not have a lot of time to do homework at home,” Roy said.

“You just have to do it,” Jeczen said. “You don’t have time at home all the time because different things happen.”

Even with extra-curricular activities and other happenings, the four have accomplished something they can keep with them for the rest of their days.

Each already has college plans. Roy, undecided on a major, will attend Eastern Michigan University. Babbitt will study broadcasting at Grand Valley State University, while Romanchek (Wayne State University) and Jeczen (Michigan State University) will major in automotive engineering and accounting, respectively.

Roy said having a strong support system has played a big role in his success. Jeczen said he receives familial support even when relatives can’t always be there for him.

Babbitt concurred, but added it’s time for the quartet to grow up.

“Your family is there to support you, but we’re also learning on our own a little bit,” Babbitt said. “We’re all going away to school, so we have to learn to be independent.”

“Right now, we know how to balance life because we’ve been in high school for four years,” Roy said. “But college is a totally different game, so we’ll be learning that balance all over again.”

All four student-athletes know they have plenty of time to be adults. They know their time in high school is short now, and they want to make the most of it.

Roy said this time is important because he knows his friends on the baseball squad and throughout the school will soon go their separate ways.

“This is probably going to be the last time we step on this field or see most of these guys,” Babbitt said. “Unfortunately, it’s coming to an end, but it’s nice to spend it with all of your friends.”

“These are free memories we’re making,” Romanchek said. “You come out here every day after school and have a blast with your friends. In college … you don’t have as much time to enjoy yourself.”

Each player said it’s unlikely they’ll play baseball at the college level. They all said they may try and walk on at their respective universities, but the focus will shift to academics.

“This is it — being with your friends on the diamond,” Jeczen said. “This is what we’ll remember. This is my favorite part of high school — coming out here at 2:45 (every afternoon) and playing some ball.”

They’ll make time for jobs in college, though.

“You’ve gotta pay those student loans somehow,” Babbitt said.

Clintondale (5-8, 5-5 Macomb Area Conference Bronze Division at press time) next hits the diamond for a 2013 Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 2 district matchup against Richmond High, set for noon May 31 at Richmond. The winner faces either Almont or Armada in a district final.

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Jason Carmel Davis at jdavis@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1107. Twitter Follow Jason on Twitter.