It’s the archetypal Cinderella Story. It’s a tale of a team that was down on its luck; a team on which everyone had given up, but a team that remained resilient. It would be right at home playing on the silver screen and making a big time studio a quick couple million.
This wasn’t some insipid, tired Hollywood fairy tale, though. This was real; this was Youngstown State University’s baseball team.
Going into the Horizon League baseball tournament as the sixth seed and toting an unimpressive 16-36 record, no one expected the Penguins to be competitive, let alone win the championship. But, four games later, the penguins had beaten the odds, defeating Wright State 5-4 to win the tournament.
The Penguins are now headed to the NCAA tournament for only the second time in school his- tory.
At the close of the regular baseball season, we were in familiar territory. As Youngstownians, we know what it’s like to be down and out; we know what it’s like to lose. During the 1970s our mills and factories shut down, our people lost their jobs and we were left with yards of rubble and acres of blight. Our crime rate climbed as our population plummeted.
We know we’ve discussed this point quite a bit as of late, but this hardly makes it less true. Youngstown could be in the midst of its very own Cinderella-esque transformation — pumpkin carriage and shimmering dress included.
Like the baseball team, we’ve remained firm, resilient and faithful. We believed in our own aptitude, investing time and money into our community and into our university. And, the return on these investments proved remarkable.
YSU now has a top-notch STEM program, a brand new, award-winning business college, and one of the best colleges of education in the state. Downtown is in the midst of a colossal revitalization process — new bars, restaurants and clubs have sprouted up. The Youngstown Business Incubator has expanded, adding yet another building to their technology campus, employing bright young minds and developing cutting edge software.
Though Youngstown has experienced a degree of success, it still faces its fill of problems; we still have to expand our economy, fight corruption and beautify our streets.
Likewise, the baseball team has won the Horizon League championship, but its biggest challenge still lies ahead; the team takes on Indiana on Friday.
So, now is the time to get out your penguin apparel, fill those bleachers and raise your voices. Cinderella had a fairy godmother on her side. We must rely on the will of our citizens and our students, but passion can move a mountain after all. Root for Youngstown State baseball — but more importantly — root for Youngstown.
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