Hartford baseball senior captain and third basemen TJ Ward talked to Locker Room Talk about his America East Conference championship experience. TJ was named captain his junior and senior year and led his team to the AEC championship this 2018 season. Hartford had a rocky start to their championship-winning season. They started off with a 1-11 record playing top caliber and ranked teams across the country. But they turned the season around as they went through conference play. Realizing they had something special after beating UMass Lowell in their three-game series and sweeping UMBC, both top three in the AEC. The Hawks faced Stony Brook in the championship game, ending the game with a score of 9-4 and receiving their first conference title. “Being able to win the school’s first championship is something I’ll be proud of forever, especially with that group of guys.”
TJ gave Locker Room Talk some advice on the recruiting process.
“In my case, I originally committed to Temple, but they cut their program after I signed. Fortunately, Hartford contacted me back after I didn’t visit them originally and offered me late into my senior year. I was lucky to end up there”. Talk about a last minute switch. From this experience, TJ’s advice is to “be as patient as possible and to contact every coach back that shows interest in you, because you never know what will happen. If I didn’t answer Harford’s emails, I don’t know if they would have have been on their radar. When it comes to making a decision, go with your gut feeling and best fits you academically, socially, and athletically. It doesn’t have to be the ‘right’ or popular choice all the time.”
As TJ looked back on his four years as a Hawk, he emphasized two incredible lessons that he has learned and practiced. One of which includes handling failure and adversity by working through it. Baseball is a game of failure and takes a lot of hours and work to master, and translated into real life, “nothing is guaranteed or comes easy. After failing many times early on, it helped me appreciate the successes more towards the end”. TJ had hardships of his own throughout his baseball career. To power through, he found motivation from the support of his parents, counting his blessings, and working harder. To athletes working through adversity, TJ encourages athletes to “find someone or something to go to whether that’s family, friends, or prayer.”
The second lesson TJ stressed was the team motto “expect more.” TJ explains, “expecting more out of yourself and those you associate with will lead to becoming your best self and creates better opportunities for yourself.” Being a two-year team captain he found expecting more from himself and his teammates made the most significant impact when working towards a championship. Caring about each other and pushing one another to accomplish their goals assisted the team as a whole to attain their goal of becoming America East Conference Champions. “Being able to win the school’s first championship is something I’ll be proud of forever, especially with that group of guys.”
Although TJ’s recruiting didn’t go as planned, he had a very successful career and found ways to “handle failure” and “expect more” from himself. These lessons he has accumulated over the years at Hartford will carry into his future and help him succeed even further in different aspects of life.
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The C.A.L.C. was thrilled to have Keirsten Sires come and speak to us on multiple topics relevant to high school athletics today, including recruiting. Keirsten reached all of our students and left them with great strategies that will not only help on the fields, courts, and mats, but also in the game of recruiting. She was a true professional and delivered a wonderful message.
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