Friday, July 26, 2013
The South Carolina Palmetto Games is a dream opportunity for many up-and-coming baseball players, and, for Bryson Connor and Ryan Lark, this dream is becoming a reality.
The two North Augusta seniors will play at the University of South Carolina baseball stadium Aug. 10-11. Many players who have gone through this experience have been drafted after their high school careers.
Starting baseball at the age of three in the Family Y, Connor said his father was the one who convinced him to become involved with the sport.
“We had a little foam ball in our hallway, and I’d get on one end of the hall, and he’d get on the other,” Connor said.
After that time with his father, he says that he has always enjoyed the game.
“I love the feeling of winning and the competition,” Connor said.
He remembers at the age of 12, playing in All-Stars, his team went to the district championship.
“The team had beat us before the tournament,” Connor said. “To come back and beat them twice – it was awesome.”
Connor said he has high expectations for this upcoming year with the North Augusta baseball team as well. “Hopefully next year, I’ll win state with the high school team.”
Although his parents come out to as many games as they can, he said that even when they can’t be there, they still show their support.
“We were down in Atlanta this past weekend, and my mom couldn’t come, but she still sent me a text that said I made her one proud mom,” Connor said. “That felt good.”
His mother, Donna, and sister, Tori, are there for him as much as possible, according to Connor, but his father is a major part of his support system.
“Dad is definitely the one that comes to pretty much every one of the games,” Connor said.
His father said that he is proud of his son, but he is happy to see all of the young men he has seen grow up become successful in the sport they love.
“I’ve watched all of these guys grow up and become good ball players,” said father Page Connor. “They’re all good in their own certain way.”
He has been coaching some of these individuals for years through various teams and said that to see his own son and Lark get to play in this game is a great experience for him.
“They’ve been fortunate,” Page said. “It’s good to see kids that you’ve watched grow up and work hard. These guys bust their rear ends to try to compete with these people they’re going up against.”
Ryan Lark began playing baseball at the age of four in North Augusta. He said he loves the game, and said that the friendships he’s built over the course of his time on the field is one of the best things he takes away from the sport.
“I just like spending time with my friends during games and practice,” Lark said.
He has had some highlights during his time, according to the senior. One time that stood out for Lark was during a rivalry game against Midland Valley High School.
“Beating Midland Valley during my sophomore year was great,” Lark said. “It was a good game, and I hit a walk-off home run.”
He said that his family is always there to support him as much as possible, but his grandmother, Barbara Reames, holds a special place in his support system.
“My grandma has not missed a game in her life,” Lark said. “I don’t know how she does it.”
The two seniors have known each other for a very long time, and they have formed a friendship that goes beyond the batting diamond.
“We’ve been on the same traveling teams on and off since we were seven or eight,” Bryson said. “We argue like brothers, but we’ll never not be friends. There is too close of a bond.”
Heather Wright is a reporter for the North Augusta Star. She is a North Augusta resident, and earned a degree in communications from USC Aiken.