MCS honors top athletes; Chris Francis of St. Rose is speaker
By John Bernhardt
Chris Francis understands that if life is a bowl of cherries, those cherries all come with pits.
The College of St. Rose baseball coach, the guest speaker at the MCS Athletic Banquet Friday evening, told a gymnasium packed with Margaretville student-athletes that the extra demands placed on them by playing a sport: the added preparation time, the additional rules and regulations they are asked to follow, and the increased commitments they shoulder, all prepare them to tackle the obstacles they will confront in life.
Francis made his points by first reciting an old Irish blessing he had recently heard used as a toast at a wedding: May the road rise to meet you, May the wind be always at your back, May the sun shine warm upon your face, The rains fall soft upon your fields, Until we meet again, May Gold hold you in the palm of His hand.
The St. Rose baseball coach advised the MCS student-athletes not to count on such good fortune. Following the normal life curve, according to Francis, most likely the road wouldn’t be rising and the wind will blow hard in their face and try to knock then off their feet. Playing sports, Francis suggested, prepares student-athletes to tackle whatever tough life experiences they may face, preparation that allows one to take a life punch while still move forward.
Francis then used his own life experiences to embellish on those points, getting cut from the Ithaca College baseball team at his first tryout, returning the next year to try again, literally begging to earn the final spot of the team and then going on to captain the team by his senior year. Despite facing extreme obstacles, including receiving almost no salary and living for one-and-a-one-half years in a hallway closet turned into a bedroom, Rose doggedly followed his dream of coaching college baseball. He worked for 15 years as an assistant coach at four different colleges and/or universities before becoming the first ever full-time baseball coach at St. Rose.
Rose applauded the student-athletes for the work they have done and encouraged them to keep moving forward.
“There is no script in life, every day your story changes,” he counseled. “When life punches you hard, keep moving forward and push back and you’ll have a great ride.”