catamountATHLETICS

OMAHA OR BUST

1002 Club

Coach Moranda begins a new era in WCU baseball
By BRANDON DEMERY

Entering his third season at Western Carolina University, head coach Bobby Moranda begins a new era in Catamount baseball for the 2010 season with the founding of the 1002 Club.

Representing the 1,002 miles between Cullowhee and Omaha, Neb., home of the College World Series, the number has a special significance in Catamount baseball. “Ten-oh-two has always been a battle cry for Catamount players and coaches,” said Moranda. “The club is being created to help raise the necessary funds to complete the mission and compete in Omaha. One-hundred percent of 1002 contributions go toward the WCU baseball program.”

Western Carolina has long thrived in collegiate baseball. Currently Clemson’s head coach, Jack Leggett led the Catamounts to five NCAA tournaments in nine seasons at WCU. Former star player and head coach Keith LeClair ’89 made WCU history with a record 45 wins in the 1994 season. In six seasons at the helm, LeClair guided the Catamounts to four NCAA tournament berths and was the SoCon Coach of the Year in ’92, ’94 and ’97.

With WCU’s impressive record in the American pastime and a top-notch fleet of players in the pros (Brent Greer, Corey Martin, Chris Masters, and Nick Liles were all Catamounts selected in Major League Baseball’s 2009 first-year draft), Moranda felt that WCU baseball was overdue for an organization of the 1002 Club’s magnitude. “As a team, we’re interested in first-ever achievements,” said Moranda. “The support from the 1002 Club allows us to continue to sign the best players and strengthens our program. The Catamount baseball team has shown time and again that we can compete with the big boys. The 1002 Club will help take us to another level of competition.”

Impressed with WCU’s rich baseball tradition, Greg Parsons, former senior vice president of Blockbuster Entertainment, accepted Moranda’s request to be the 1002 Club’s inaugural president. “The dream of all Division I baseball programs is a trip to the College World Series,” said Parsons, who has close ties to longtime Catamount baseball supporter Larry Stanberry ’68. “In order to make the Omaha trip a reality, we need the help of fans and friends.”

Several current players say they have noticed the level of support given to Catamount baseball.

“I knew Western Carolina was the school to play for if I wanted to win,” said Ross Heffley, sophomore center fielder and 2009 SoCon Freshman Player of the Year. “Having all the support from the fans and alumni is awesome. It’s easier to play knowing that everyone is rooting for us and hoping we succeed.”

Senior closing pitcher Daniel Ottone agreed. “Until 1002, I had no idea how many people really cared about our team. We have some of the best fans in the region. Alums are still coming back to watch games. It’s more than just a team here, it’s family,” Ottone said.

“Tradition and our fans is what makes WCU baseball special,” said senior center fielder Dylan de Graaf. “We are by far the best-supported team in the SoCon. Our No. 1 goal is Omaha. We have the support, and we’ll do whatever it takes to make it there.”

The 1002 Club features five levels of membership: SoCon, SoCon Tournament, Regional, Super Regional and Omaha. SoCon-level members donate $100.02 per year for four years of membership; SoCon Tournament members donate $250.50 per year for four years; and Regional members give $1,002 per year for four years. Super Regional members make a one-time donation of $5,002 for a lifetime membership, and Omaha-level members donate $10,002 for lifetime membership. Membership benefits range from 1002 Club T-shirts to weekend all-access baseball trips. All levels of membership are tax-deductible.

Those interested in becoming 1002 Club members can fill out the online application at CatamountSports.com or call WCU baseball 828.227.7338.

Brandon Demery is a senior at Western Carolina University from Raleigh. He is majoring in English/professional writing with a minor in social work and communication.