Bolin pushing 'Canes to play at next levelBy KRISTEN LEIGH PORTER
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 18, 2003
Citrus coach Jon Bolin describes playing in college as "four more years you get to play the greatest game in the world."
He would know.
Bolin, who lettered in 1990-91 as a walk-on at Florida State, did not want his career to end after high school.
At Panama City Mosley, he was a catcher and played some middle infield, and at Gulf Coast Community College he primarily played in the infield. Bolin was recruited by several smaller schools, but he wanted to go to Florida State and transferred there.
At a one-day tryout, Bolin would have the opportunity to show why he belonged with the perennial power. The Florida State staff told the group it was looking for anybody who could pitch, one more middle infielder and a catcher. Bolin said he and 20 others tried out at second base.
"I thought I did okay, but I wasn't asked to stay for another round," he said.
But FSU still needed a third catcher and liked Bolin even though he had not played there regularly since high school.
Bolin knew he wasn't going to get a lot of playing time, especially with All-American Pedro Grifol behind the plate. So Bolin spent most of his time in the dugout as close as possible to coach Mike Martin, who later helped him land his first coaching job.
"It was a great experience with coach Martin," Bolin said.
His time as a Seminole was a great experience for Bolin, who as a kid had watched the College World Series and got to experience it at Florida State. In 1991, the top-seeded Seminoles went two-and-out, losing first to Fresno State then rival Florida.
Now at Citrus, Bolin wants his players to be able to extend their careers beyond this season. While Bolin was an assistant at Panama City Bay, he coached current Seminoles Mark and Matt Sauls. Matt transferred from Gulf Coast Community College.
Bolin's connections and knowledge of the game should be beneficial for the Hurricanes.
"That was one of my goals, to try to get as many of these kids landed," Bolin said. "I look around and see guys who can play at the (junior college) level or better."
To help the players gain exposure, Bolin set up a spring break trip to the Panama City area. That led to a commitment by Darrel Brooks, who plans to sign with Wallace Community College in Alabama. Brooks, a left-handed middle infielder with a .400 average, was spotted by a member of the Wallace staff during the Panama City swing.
Last week, Bolin, Brooks and senior Keith Zigler went to Alabama to check out the program, which is led by former major-leaguer Mackey Sasser. Bolin has known Sasser for about 17 years, dating to his FSU days.
Bolin said several of his seniors can play at the next level, adding that junior college programs in Florida, Alabama and Georgia are strong.
"Some guys may have to travel a little bit more to play," Bolin said. "Their talents are not fully developed."
Right now, Bolin said the focus is on finding pitcher Luke Czerwinski (5-0, 3.33 ERA) a place to play. Bolin said he is "in awe" of the fact that he has not gotten more recognition.
Bolin hopes Brooks is just the start of a storm of 'Canes reaching the next level.
© 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
490 First Avenue South St. Petersburg, FL 33701 727-893-8111