Stephen Bryant recently became the all-time leader in games played at shortstop in Cardinal baseball history. When he’s not fielding balls at shortstop, Bryant can be found studying for his criminal justice courses.
“The pandemic has stopped us from being able to practice freely and we have to go into groups of 10 instead of full team practices,” Bryant said. “Not being able to go out there with a full team all the time, I feel like it hindered us. We did not have that chemistry we needed going into our first games. It definitely has been an adjustment.”
Bryant and his team have been supporting each other during this pandemic. The team faced many obstacles this year due strict guidelines put in place for COVID, but they were eventually allowed to play again.
“If you are not able to pull for each other and support the other kids on the team, you are not going to have much success,” Bryant said.
Since Bryant is a senior on the team, he knows a lot of the returning players really well. However, it has been harder to form bonds with new players since the team can’t practice all together, especially because they can’t hang out all together after practices. His perseverance to play the game is seen by those coaching and playing with him.
“He is the all time games played leader at shortstop here at Plattsburgh State,” Kris Doorey, the men’s baseball coach, said. “He hits at the top part of the order and always has. He was a captain this year, he is a captain by example. He is the type of person that is not going to yell and scream at guys and he always goes out and plays as hard as he can. He is one of the top shortstops in Division Three baseball. He is just that good. He is the best player we have. He is just an all around terrific human being.”
Despite getting the option to graduate last spring, Bryant decided to stay another year to play with his teammates after the NCAA granted a year of eligibility to players at the beginning of the pandemic.
“He decided that he should come back and play again. In the fall, we only practiced three times and in small pods. A normal fall season for us is five weeks of practice. It has just been completely different. We have played 10 games now, but we have not had 10 team practices,” Doorey said.
When Bryant started attending SUNY Plattsburgh, he was unsure which major to choose. He eventually settled for criminal justice for this reason.
“At first I wanted to do something with sports,” Bryant said. “When I showed up on campus there were only so many options, nothing like sports management was offered. In high school I took a criminal justice class, and I have always liked learning about the law. Now I have a passion for it and I want to become a law enforcement officer.”
When Bryant is not in the classroom or on a baseball field, he has a few hobbies to keep him spirited.
“I like to play the PlayStation, play video games with friends, watching sports, going out and doing simple things,” Bryant said. “Baseball is not my entire life. I try to make an effort to do different things like playing golf, I caddy in the summer, mini golfing, bowling, anything to keep me active.”
Erik Matz, a good friend of Bryant’s, plays on the baseball team and looks up to him as a role model. Matz believes that Bryant is a great person, who is always willing to step into a leadership role.
“Stephen’s personality represents him, not only as a leader, but a very unselfish person,” Matz said. “Being that I have known him for over four years, I could go and talk to Stephen about anything knowing he will listen and have positive feedback. Whether it comes to school, baseball or life, he is a hard worker and will continue to do whatever it takes to get to the end goal. Overall, Stephen is a great person and I am glad to have him as a friend.”