After joining the varsity team and winning the Nepsac championship his Junior year, Jack Penney ’21 was chosen to lead the team as one of the three captains for this upcoming season. According to Penney, baseball has always been his favorite sport because of both its competitive and technical nature.
“Baseball is a different kind of game from other sports. I grew up playing other sports like basketball, hockey, lacrosse, and baseball. But, I like baseball because there’s no time limit, [and] everyone gets an equal opportunity to do what they can. I like how hard the game is to play—it’s not that easy to hit a ball that’s being thrown at you fast. Overall, I like running around the field and the general concept of the game. I like the infield, tracking ground balls, I just naturally like the game. I’ve always liked competitive sports and baseball has all of that together.”
His exceptional athleticism helps make Penney a valuable part of the team according to Head Coach Kevin Graber.
Graber wrote in an email to The Phillipian, “Jack’s a really good athlete. He made the [Andover Boys Baseball team as a Junior] and transitioned last year to squash and got good at it really quickly. That athleticism translates to the baseball field, especially at shortstop, where Jack catches everything and is especially adept at making accurate throws on the run.”
According to Penney, the mental side of baseball is just as important as the physical side of the game, and learning how to persevere through the low points is a crucial part of the sport.
“You have to persevere through hardship. That’s the biggest thing I’ve learned through ten plus years of baseball. It’s a really hard sport to play—even the pros struggle a lot—you have to learn how to deal with that and knowing how you can get out of a jam when you’re on the mound or if you’re not hitting well, knowing how to get out of that and getting back to having the best performance that you can have if you’re struggling is the biggest thing. Learning how to control your emotions is another big thing. If your head is down below your heels it’s really hard to get out of the track that you’re going down. I try to lead the team, I try to keep my mindset straight and my attitude positive so I don’t fall down any rabbit holes or anything like that.”
Penney exemplifies all the qualities of a strong leader by setting a good example for his teammate according to Graber.
“We’re specific about what leadership means in our program. Jack exemplifies all of it, from work ethic, to supporting teammates, to always playing with energy and enthusiasm. Jack spreads contagious, positive energy and enthusiasm among teammates always,” wrote Graber.
By using his influence as a captain, Penney tries to lead with his actions by holding himself to the same standards that he does everyone else.
Penney said, “I don’t say a lot, I’m not very talkative, but I try to lead by example. At practice each day, I try to take the lead and show people how to do drills, or tell them if they’re doing something wrong and try to help them fix what they’re doing. During games I try to lift people up in the dugout. We have a rule that you can’t sit on the bench during the game, and I try and keep that rule on the field with everything that I do with the team just so everyone keeps the same mindset and so that no one slacks off. I think that keeping myself to those standards will keep everyone else on the same track because as a captain, you’re looked at in a spotlight more so than others, and I want to use that spotlight to set a good example.”