TENNERTON – Buckhannon-Upshur High School senior Nick Calef-Boring can still recall practicing baseball in the basement of his grandfather, Rich Calef, when he was just 5 years old.
He remembers hitting ball after ball after ball.
On Thursday, Feb. 7, that grit and determination paid off when he achieved a lifelong dream of signing on to play collegiate-level baseball with the Glenville State College Pioneers.
Calef-Boring, who will graduate with the B-UHS Class of 2019 this May, started for the Buccaneer baseball team the entire 2018 season and was a team leader in batting average, hits, runs batted in and on-base percentage.
Following the signing, Calef-Boring, who plays first base or is a designated hitter, said having the opportunity to play collegiate-level baseball so close to home was too good to pass up.
“I’ve been working at baseball since I was 5,” he said. “I remember going down to my grandpa’s basement and just working at it. I put tons of hours into my swing, and evidently it’s paid off.”
He said head baseball coach for the GSC Pioneers, James Mullins, played a significant role in convincing him to sign at Glenville – as did the college’s top-notch athletic facilities.
“Coach Mullins had a big part in it,” Calef-Boring said. “Just recruiting me, and he vowed to make me a better player, and that’s what you want in a coach.”
He said the centrally located public college’s indoor baseball facility and all-turf field was another incentive.
Most of all, though, he’s glad he’s going to be playing close to home.
“It means everything, just the family support that can get you through tough times on the field and in the classroom,” Calef-Boring said.
Head B-UHS baseball coach Adam Squires highlighted Calef-Boring’s years of hard work, saying Nick’s willingness to put in extra training transformed him into the player he is today.
Squires said he felt honored GSC recruited Calef-Boring.
“I take some pride in that because, hopefully, I helped him somehow on the way to get where he’s at, but you know, Nick works harder than anybody on a team I’ve ever been a part of,” Squires said. “He’s always going to extra hitting, extra lifting, all this stuff to make himself into a college baseball player, and I attribute [his being recruited by GSC] to his work ethic. “
“He pushed himself to get him where he’s at now,” Squires continued. “He has so much experience. He doesn’t get rattled at the plate, even when he’s down 0-2. He’s a good two-strike hitter because he’s played for so long and works so much you can kind of count on his experience.”
Calef-Boring wasn’t the only Buccaneer to become a future Pioneer Thursday.
B-UHS senior Casey Hamner, a long snapper for the Buccaneer football team, pledged to play football for Glenville State College.
Hamner noted he’s the first person in his family to score a position on a collegiate-level athletic team.
“My parents (Carla and Sean Hamner) didn’t really get the opportunity to play college sports, so it brings a new meaning to my family to take things forward and try to bring more joy to my family,” Hamner said. “Going down to be a Pioneer, where both of my parents went to college, means a lot to me for family reasons.”
Hamner said GSC would be a second home for him.
“It’s like a second home,” he said. “It’s close. I’m country, and I know a lot of people that have gone there, so it’ll be easy making friends. It’s good to be at home, and I’m proud to be a Pioneer.”
Hamner, a long snapper for the Bucs, isn’t entirely sure what position he’ll play at GSC, but he’s pondering three – long snapper, linebacker and full back.
“Long snapping is an acquired talent, so when [the GSC coach staff] came up and talked to us at school … Coach (J.J.) Mayer said, ‘Alright, who’s the long snapper?’ and I said ‘That’s me, coach.’ He said, ‘We need you,’ and I said, ‘Sounds good, I’ll be there.’”
Both Calef-Boring and Hamner said they were relieved to have the college selection process out of the way so they could concentrate on making the most out of their senior years.