Jupiter High baseball celebrates senior night

Jupiter High’s varsity baseball team honored their senior players, along with Simon Baker, on March 9 at Doug Ferguson Field. Five of the recognized seniors will go on to play college baseball.

Not having a proper senior night last season because of COVID-19 prompted the coaches and parents to make this year’s ceremony extra special. 

An hour before game time, the varsity seniors, their coaches and their families took the field, and the coaches presented the seniors with small gifts and their parents with flowers. Each senior also received a baseball signed by the team and their coaches. 

“It was a great event. Camren has had a great career here at JHS, and he’s had a lot of fun,” Shane Carrol, senior parent, said. “All things must come to an end…but he is fortunate enough to be able to continue playing baseball at Indian River State College. Definitely a proud parent moment.” 

Throughout their baseball careers, the players looked forward to senior night, to be recognized as graduates and Warrior athletes.

“It felt weird in a good way because it’s something that we have been waiting for since freshman year, and it doesn’t feel like it actually happened,” Tyler Chinpire, senior pitcher, said.

Simon Baker, who died in 2019, was also recognized on March 9 because he would have been a senior this season. 

“Honoring Simon collectively as a team helps to heal the hurt and memory of our teammate. Simon was a fantastic teammate. We all remember the guy in his triumphs and struggles. This is real stuff, real emotions. A year and a half later and the sadness and disappointment is still real,” Pete Ceppo, JV head coach, said.

In Baker’s honor, the boys all wore the number 10 on their jerseys, and Josh Ryckman threw a ceremonial pitch to Camren Carrol.

“The ceremony was important to the team because it acknowledged Simon as an important teammate even though he is no longer with us. We are sad he is not on the team and the ceremony really made us happy to give him the recognition he would have had as a senior,” Noah Steckley, senior pitcher, said.

Since Baker was a pitcher, the pitching mound was also marked with “#10” for senior night.

“It made me want to play the game for Simon since I was pitching, and he was a pitcher,” Chinpire said.

Baker’s parents also attended the ceremony to remember their son’s baseball career and to honor his teammates.

“It felt great honoring Simon tonight. Unfortunately, life is so busy for most people, and you sometimes don’t have time to reflect or check in with his parents,”  Carrol said. “I’m so glad they were able to attend, and I hope the ceremony can help them to continue to heal.”

Both the coaches and the players remarked on their fond memories of Baker. 

“Simon was very interesting. He was an all standout student, great community organizer and leader along with being a talented athlete. It’s perplexing to learn that he had pain and a sadness that he was able to hide. If I could see him again, I would love to give him a giant hug and let him know that I felt his pain and would like to ease the burden. Rest in peace Simon, you are loved and missed greatly,” Ceppo said.

Though the night was emotional for players and fans alike, it was a heartfelt way to remember a fellow Warrior and to celebrate the seniors before they went off to college.

“I think a lot of mixed emotions. Sadness, but love for [Baker]. It’s good to be reminded of those who we have lost, even though it hurts, because you never want to forget those you care about,” Andy Mook, head baseball coach, said.

With the pandemic, the boys appreciated the chance to honor Baker and to play the game they loved. The Warriors faced off against Park Vista, one of their toughest rivals, on senior night. According to the seniors, the baseball field offered a welcome distraction from the stresses of the school year.

“Baseball to me is my getaway. A place where I can decompress and get away from the outside world. It is the reason I am who I am today. Baseball to me raises boys to men,” Ryckman, senior pitcher, said.

Seniors also discussed how their coaches helped them to get to where they were today, playing for a successful program and continuing to play at the collegiate level.

“They have mentally and physically prepared me. They have taught me toughness and to never let off the gas when I am on the mound. My coaches have also helped me with my approach to attack hitters when I am pitching, and this has helped me a lot,” Noah Steckley, senior pitcher, said.

Jupiter’s coaches not only teach the players strategy and technique to improve their game but also the mental aspect of the sport.

“Baseball is a game of failure, so it teaches you to get up when you’ve been knocked down,” Mook said. “You’re not always going to succeed in life. You are going to have setbacks and so called failures in life.  But you can’t just give up. You work hard, be determined, and learn to make yourself better & those around you.”