June 6, 2011
By Jon Cooper
Here’s a riddle: How can someone help his team off-the-field and on- the-field at the same time?
It’s not some anomaly in the time-space continuum.
What it requires is an extreme love of the game, an equally strong commitment to one’s teammates and a willingness to do whatever it takes.
Senior pitcher Zach Brewster had all three components and thus was able perform the feat this past weekend at the NCAA Tournament’s Atlanta Regional.
Brewster, a lefty from Murrayville, Ga., knew he wasn’t going to participate on the field wearing a Yellow Jackets uniform. That hurt, as this was going to be the final NCAA Tournament of his collegiate career, which began in 2008 and saw him pitch in 49 games, earning one career save.
The hurt grew even greater when Georgia Tech Head Coach Danny Hall told Brewster that he would not even be allowed to sit in the dugout due to NCAA rules.
Not to be denied, Brewster did what any good management major would do. He managed to find a way to get on the field.
“It’s hard to be away,” he said Sunday afternoon. “I wanted to be in the field regardless of what I did. So I went to Cheryl Watts our assistant director of gameday operations, and asked her if she needed any help around the field or anything. She always encouraged me to help. She had plenty of stuff for me to do and put me to work.”
Contributing off the field isn’t new for Brewster, who has been the baseball team’s representative on the Student-Athlete Advisory Board for 2010-11. The Atlanta Regional presented him one last unique opportunity to help the team, albeit indirectly.
“I’ve been running the hospitality center for the players,” he said. “And I’ve been helping the grounds crew a little bit when they’ve needed it, with the hose, trying to water the field between games and stuff.”
There he was, fighting oven-like conditions, holding the length of hose as the grounds crew watered the infield down, doing his part to keep the infield at Russ Chandler Stadium from getting too dry and dusty.
But it was all on the up-and-up. He never dragged the hose or slowed the process to “accidentally” supply some extra water, say, on the dirt in front of the plate, creating a quagmire, to “maybe” allow an opportunity for speedsters Kyle Wren and Mott Hyde to lay down a bunt or to help slow down opposing grounders.
“I wasn’t actually in control of how much water was out there,” he said. “I was just helping them carry [the hose] around and stuff. You want to do the best you can for the team and help them out as much as possible. But I really wanted to control that today.”
Any help Brewster gave to the team on this day was already in place, in the form of the senior leadership he provided during the season.
“That was the main thing this year, especially with so many freshmen,” he said. “To hang around and at least help show them the ropes, help kind of guide them along and give them some experience as the year progressed.”
While he only has one more semester until graduation, Brewster hasn’t closed the door to doing more of his off-the-field/on-the-field mentoring.
“I haven’t really thought about it but I definitely like being around the game and especially the guys,” he said. “I have a bond with them. It’s fun to be around and help out as much as I can. So it’s probably something I’ll continue to do in some capacity.”