Our Voices: SU Pitcher Puts Graduation Ahead Of Game (388 hits)
Just when you believe our young people don’t get it, you meet Brian Foster. Then you meet his mother, and you understand why Brian Foster gets it.
Foster is a pre-med major and a pitcher on the Southern University baseball team. The Kennesaw, Ga., native was supposed to be the starting pitcher for the Jaguars on Friday morning against Alcorn State University.
It was a Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament game that Southern had to win. Lose the game, and the Jaguars’ season was over.
At the same time, about a long fly ball away, Southern was holding graduation ceremonies in the F.G. Clark Activity Center.
Foster was in a pickle. He was supposed to be at both.
Guess what he did?
“There was really no decision for me to make,” Foster said, while waiting to march into the Activity Center with 635 other spring 2012 graduates. “I have to be here. Graduating from college was the only promise she (his mother) ever made me make to her. So this is what I am going to do.”
Foster sounded earnest and proud of his answer. I wonder how many times a student-athlete makes this kind of choice?
Foster sat nervously during the ceremony that started a little over an hour after the first pitch at the baseball game.
“I really couldn’t concentrate on the graduation and the speaker,” he said. He was trying to get updates from his cell phone, “but my phone stopped texting.”
Foster could see his brother in the audience, “and he would relay hand signals to me about the score.”
Minutes before Foster’s name was called to get his diploma, Southern was leading 8-5 in the ninth inning. Alcorn had the bases loaded with one out. But the Jaguars completed the win, giving up only one more run.
“I am relieved,” Foster said, just before walking up to the stage to get his diploma.
After getting his diploma, Foster posed for a picture, then bolted from the Activity Center to meet his family outside.
Most of the baseball team also greeted him.
Now meet Foster’s mother, Carla Alfred.
She hugged and congratulated her son outside the Activity Center. They were all smiles as they posed for pictures.
Carla Alfred said, “I can only guess what he was feeling” during graduation about the situation with the baseball team. “But I don’t really care about all that, though. I wanted his coach to support him. And I wanted his team to support him and his decision. Brian understands that education comes first, and baseball is always second.”
You have to love her. She gets it.
As he was about to leave to prepare to pitch in a later game Friday, Foster was asked: What if the Jaguars had lost the morning game?
Foster’s career at Southern would have been over, and he never would have gotten his final chance to pitch. Would he have been left with a lot of “what ifs”?
“No,” he said. “This was important to my mom. This is what I promised her. Graduation meant everything to her. She means everything to me.”