By Kedrick Storey
RIPLEY – Former Ole Miss baseball standout Stephen Head brought a message of working hard and the importance of reading to third- and fourth-grade students at Ripley Elementary School on Thursday.
Head now serves as Director of Operations for the baseball Rebels.
Head, a left-handed pitcher and first baseman for the Rebels (2003-05) and the program’s first three-time All-American before being drafted by the Cleveland Indians, spoke about the benefits of establishing a good work ethic at an early age. After taking questions, he read the holiday favorite Polar Express to nearly 300 students.
“The one big thing we like to do in our program is community service,” said Head, the 2004 SEC Baseball Player of the Year. “We want to enrich not only our players’ lives but the lives of people in other communities. Hopefully by seeing a college coach reading to them, that will inspire them to read and work a little harder in the classroom.”
Head, who was also an Academic All-American, encouraged the students to find a balance between extra-curricular activities and the classroom.
“I know these guys are third and fourth graders but, I wanted to try and create an awareness that it’s hard to balance having fun playing sports and getting serious in the classroom,” added Head. “It’s tough and you’ve got to be disciplined, but you can do it, if you have a good work ethic.”
Principal Ruby Bennett said she was impressed with how Head directed the mostly sports-related questions back to the main focus of the day – becoming better students.
“I was really impressed by the fact that when he allowed the students to ask questions and they wanted to ask about his career, he would redirect their attention to the importance of working hard and doing their best in school so that one day the could be whatever they wanted to be.”
Head was the 62nd pick of the 2005 MLB Draft. He spent six years as a utility player with the Indians before signing with the Colorado Rockies in 2011.