Curtis Cobean shines at the plate and leads in the dugout on a beleaguered varsity baseball team
There’s no denying that 2016 has been a difficult season for George Brown varsity baseball. A stronger talent level at tryouts hasn’t translated to an improved record, and the issue of depth has been further exasperated by injury.
But even in a 1-15 season, there are positives. Despite not playing at 100 per cent, outfielder Andrew Murrell continues to be a danger at the plate. Gregory Hall pitched a strong seven-inning game against the Seneca Sting on Sept. 17 to earn the team’s only win. And then there’s Curtis Cobean.
Without reservation, the Huskies outfielder is having a tremendous season. Cobean leads not just George Brown, but the entire Ontario Colleges Athletic Association (OCAA) in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage, while co-leading in doubles. For perspective, Cobean’s batting average is .531; his closest competitor, Durham’s Michael Chilvers, has a .450.
Cobean credits his success at the plate to playing an abundance of baseball, allowing him to be right in the swing of things come college season. Playing ball throughout the winter, summer and now with the Huskies, Cobean believes he’s up to around 80 baseball games this year alone.
The second year construction engineering technology student freely credits the baseball people around him, whether they be his team in Kincardine or the coaches at George Brown. Cobean only has words of praise for Huskies head coach Mark Cotgrave and his staff, citing their knowledge, effort and willingness to give extra time for players to work on their game. It’s an ethic Cotgrave in turn sees in Cobean.
“He’s about as professional a hitter as I’ve had a chance to coach,” said Cotgrave. “He knows his swing, he knows what he needs to do to be successful. He’s one of the hardest workers on the group, he works at his craft and his bat speed is second to none.”
Cobean’s remarkable performance has come with an absence of accolades. His teammates, however, don’t need to see athlete of the week honours to know how important the Port Elgin native is.
“He’s definitely the MVP of this team,” said Murrell, a three year Huskies baseball veteran. “I don’t know if I’m Jordan to his Pippen or Pippen to his Jordan, but he’s been a great addition to this team and he’s given us everything we needed. If we had a few more (Cobean’s), we’d be unstoppable.”
Athletes and coaching staff alike praise Cobean as a leader. Hall cites his calming presence in the midst of a frustrating season, while outfielder and pitcher Austin Altenburg said Cobean is the first to tell his teammates to “get on the sticks and keep going” after a bad inning.
Though he certainly feels the frustration himself, Cobean understands the OCAA is a competitive league with high-level baseball being played. Looking forward, he hopes George Brown will build upon this year’s late inning collapses and take the next step.
“I think that what’s helping us, knowing that we’re close, we’re right there,” said Cobean. “Just to keep plugging away, just to keep doing it because maybe all these experiences this year of being so close will help us next year.”