By Marina Waters
David Crockett High School baseball player Will Long has considered how he’ll be remembered once he graduates and moves on to Tennessee Tech where he will continue his academic and athletic career. But in signing with the Golden Eagles, he’s ready to be remembered as a kid who got to continue playing the game he’s always loved.
“I’ve wanted to play at the highest level since I was 4, whenever I started t-ball,” Long said. “It’s everybody’s dream to keep playing. So I’m getting to move along with it and I’m just really happy about it.”
Long is a catcher for the Crockett Pioneers and is a two-time All-Big 7 Conference player. He’s earned a .354 batting average and has tallied three home runs, 15 doubles, 24 RBIs, 18 walks and 27 runs throughout his junior season.
The senior Pioneer was in contact with Walters State, East Tennessee State University as well as other schools in North Carolina, but when it came time to see the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles in action, Long knew the atmosphere was what he was looking for.
“I went down and watched them practice and play games and it just had a different feel than any others,” Long said. “They had a different energy, more enthusiasm about what they were doing. They just seem like they’re playing relaxed and not uptight. The coaches are awesome there. I got along with them really well.”
Before Long will make the move to Cookeville, where he plans to go into mechanical engineering, the senior catcher has one more year left in on the diamond in Jonesborough. With a new head coach, Nick Lingerfelt, and another go around with his teammates, Long said he’s ready to suit up as a Pioneer for his senior season.
“We seem to be doing some really good things. If all the players can buy into what we’re trying to do at Crockett now, we should be pretty good this season,” Long said. “We’ll see what happens.”
To ensure a powerful and memorable last season, Long said he’s been putting in the work in the off season and getting ready to make the most of the whole ride.
“I’ve been spending a lot of time in the weight room and in the batting cage throwing a lot,” Long said. “It’s just that extra practice on your own that’ll really set you apart from the others in my opinion.”
“I’m just trying to make the most of it really. You’re only in high school one time so I want to make it one that I can remember and go out with a bang.”
One of Long’s fondest memories from his time at Crockett might be pretty hard to beat this season, however. When asked who has helped the senior catcher get to where he is today, Long’s mind immediately went to an experience he had due to his former head coach, Scott Hagy.
Hagy was the longtime Pioneer baseball coach and only the second in program history. Before he retired from his head coaching duties, Hagy was instrumental in Long’s selection to Team Tennessee that competed in the Sunbelt Classic in Oklahoma.
“Coach Hagy is the one who actually got me there because he was the one who recommended I go,” Long said. “That’s how I was selected to go to that tournament.”
For Long, the experience to play with the elite team is one he’ll never forget. He also said he’s thankful to have met some of the state’s top performers, who became friends, on the trip as well.
“I remember the bus ride down to Oklahoma — it seemed like nobody said a word. Then we got to know each other through the week playing together and we were talking the whole night on the bus ride back,” Long said. “So it was fun to get to know those guys. There are a few that’ll probably be drafted next year and some will be going on to play at SEC schools. So it was cool to play with that kind of talent for that week.”
When the senior athlete looks back on his time at Crockett, however, it isn’t just the games played with his team that comes to mind; overall, Long said he is hoping to leave his mark as a good all-around person on and off the field.
“I feel like I’ve done some good things to be remembered for a long time,” Long said. “Really what I want is to be one that someone can look back and remember as a good student in class, a good friend to talk to and a good baseball player.”