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Field, dreams come true at HCC

April 30, 2001

Field, dreams come true at HCC



By BILL STERNER / Staff Correspondent


Hagerstown Community College softball coach Brian Beck can't really put his finger on the first time he thought about having a softball field on the HCC campus - a place his team could truly call home.

It may have been right after he watched his favorite movie - "Field of Dreams" - for the umpteenth time.

In that movie, Ray Kinsella, played by Kevin Costner, constructs a baseball park in a cornfield after his subconscious tells him, 'If you build it, they will come' - 'they' being the great players of the past coming to play in his back yard if he seizes the opportunity. Kinsella had missed several opportunities in his life to accomplish goals and viewed this chance as a final attempt.

Brian Beck would be no Ray Kinsella. Beck, coach of the Hawks since 1997, successfully recruited some of the area's best softball talent and waited patiently for the time to lobby for a home on campus.

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"It was a matter of opportunity meeting desire. "I learned not to miss opportunities when they present themselves," Beck said.

But he was quick to add that unlike the "Field of Dreams," he already had the great players at HCC. Now he needed to build the field.

"I believed we had the makings of a very good team," Beck continued. "But there was not high visibility of our program in the community or on campus."

Beck saw the solution as one of location. Locate your games on campus where they are accessible to faculty and students, and the problem of popularity in women's softball would be solved.

Faith in the future



On a bright autumn day just over a year ago, Beck led his two newest recruits - Mary Beth Kennell and Kim Twigg - through the back door of the HCC athletic complex and swept his hand in the direction of the all-purpose field. As if waving a magic wand, he asked Kennell and Twigg to imagine their own field on the campus of HCC with their own fans cheering them on.

In a sport where even great players toil in relative obscurity, Beck was promising them an identity.

"He told us we were going to feel like part of the school," said Kennell, a second team All-American last season and a preseason first team All-American this season. "I really didn't know what to think. We had opened a new field at Mt Savage (Allegany County) and it was a little rough."

"I sort of looked at the field and thought, 'there is a lot of work to be done there,'" Twigg said. "I knew Coach was a worker, though. At no time did I think he wouldn't deliver."

"Kim (Twigg) came home and said that before she would leave HCC, Coach Beck promised her an opportunity to go on to a four-year school and to play on their own field on campus," said Rick Twigg, Kim's father and head softball coach at Allegany High School. "I knew HCC was a top flight program, but anyone can tell you that constructing and opening a playable college quality field is quite an undertaking."

Eye on the prize



But Beck was no stranger to difficult tasks or to taking risks to enter the unknown.In fact, his first college coaching job was in 1997 as an assistant softball coach at HCC.

"Brian wanted to coach. He is a motivated people guy," HCC athletic director and men's basketball coach Jim Brown said. "I told him if he wanted to coach to do it here."

Beck's first spot was as an unpaid volunteer under head coach Wes Hoover. And although he may have been a little unprepared to coach softball, he was totally unprepared for what happened only five games into the season. "I took the opportunity to coach as a volunteer." Beck said. "I didn't realize I would be THE coach in just under two weeks."

Hoover stepped down for personal reasons after the Hawks' fifth game. Beck wasn't looking to be a head softball coach, but Brown recognized a change was needed in the program and he saw an opportunity.

"Brian is a hard worker who sets goals," Brown said. "I saw this as a positive foundation for our softball program."

Brown's appointment of Beck worked out perfectly as that team rallied to finish 23-9 and win the state championship in a two-game sweep of Catonsville. But the team was rarely identified with the college, playing the majority of their home games at Black Rock Park in front of mostly parents and a few curious passersby.

The time has come



Beck saw the opportunity to get the field started when the school's maintenance department announced the construction of a storm water holding field that would cut into the all-purpose field behind the ARCC.

"I jump-started our field right there," Beck said. "The hardest part was to convince people it would benefit the college, but eventually, permission was given."

Beck started right in to make his promises a reality to the team. The field was situated on the remaining plot of ground and then sod cutters were used to carve out a rough diamond.

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