SouthLake Christian baseball players Colin Belvin and Joe Haney have been playing together since 2013. They became friends right away and have learned to encourage and push each other on and off the field.
Belvin, a senior outfielder, pitcher and three-year starter for the Eagles, plans to continue his academic and baseball career at Anderson University. Haney, a junior infielder and pitcher who committed to play baseball at Davidson College this past fall, is also a three-year starter.
The two met playing youth baseball with Stewards of the Game, a faith-based organization in Huntersville. They played together on a Stewards all-star team that played in Cooperstown, N.Y., and later continued their bond as teammates as SouthLake under varsity baseball coach Michael Causey and head assistant Cheron Farley.
After being key contributors in back-to-back conference championships in 2017 and 2018, Belvin and Haney now have different roles as team leaders on a very young team. The Eagles enter this week with an 11-10 overall record, including key NCISAA victories over Caldwell Academy and Covenant Day.
Along with sophomore slugger first baseman Derek Farley, Belvin and Haney are the lone returning starters from the championship teams and have provided leadership on and off the field. In addition to being a defensive standout in center field, Belvin leads off and is tops on the team with with six doubles. Haney leads the team in hitting, batting .383 with a home run.
The two players sat down recently for a question-and-answer session:
Q. What have been your favorite games of the year so far?
Belvin – “Covenant Day – a big win for us in extra innings.”
Haney – “Cuyahoga Valley Christian – opening win for us in our spring break tournament.”
Q. What have been some challenges this year with a very inexperienced team?
Haney – “Adjusting to the fact that we have to perform game in and game out. The seniors last year could carry us when we had off games. That’s no longer the case.”
Belvin – “Not getting frustrated with early-season losses. We are learning lessons from these tough games and know that our strength of schedule will ultimately help us.”
Q. What is special about this 2019 team?
Belvin - “We worked hard this offseason as a team, both in the weight room and on the field. You can see the gains in strength and overall skill in each of us, especially some of the freshmen and (sophomore starting third baseman) Gavin (Fragale).”
Haney – “We seem to be very close as a team and our spring break tournament in Myrtle Beach helped that a lot. We play together as a team. Players know they have to earn their spot, and we are actually enjoying being the underdogs this season.”
Q. What are your team goals for this season?
Belvin – “Win our conference tournament and make the state playoffs.”
Haney – “Win the conference tournament and continue making strides to set the stage for next season.”
Q. What are some personal challenges during the season as a student-athlete?
Haney – “Getting enough sleep and maintaining a routine in the weight room. Both are important things to keep up with during the season. Time management is key but if you focus on it, I find my grades are better in-season than in the offseason.”
Q. How has your friendship helped you on and off the field?
Haney – “We can talk about anything and bounce ideas off each other. That’s helped us be leaders on a young team. Colin and I love to compete with each other and push each other to be successful.”
Belvin – “We do push each other on and off the field. Whether it’s in the weight room or doing drills in practice, we can’t let the other one show him up.”