MAGAZINE: Like Good Neighbors

Jacob Steimer

From The Bark magazine, Spring 2012 Derek Lance and Trey York have been neighbors for 15 years. Now, as senior captains for Bearden, they’re neighboring middle infielders on a dangerous team. They grew up together: a term often used in sports to talk of players who went to the same high school, or maybe played AAU or com­petitive ball together at some point or another. The captains of this year’s Bearden baseball team how­ever, didn’t just play together in middle school. Derek Lance and Trey York have been joined by proximity and friendship since they were both 2 years old. “We’ve grown up across from each other since day of birth, whether it’s been basketball or whatever it’s been, we’ve been competi­tive in everything,” Lance says. “We push each other to do our best, and we’ve had that relationship even when we were young. “There were times when we’d get in arguments with one another, but we’ve been great friends for a long time.” The two baseball stars are both only children, allowing them to forge a sibling-like relationship. And like any set of brothers, they haven’t always liked each other, but, after spending 15 years with just yards separating them, the two know each other like only brothers do. “If I’m having a bad game, he can back me up; if he’s having a bad game, I can back him up,” York says. “He always has the right thing to say to me, I always have the right thing to say to him, it’s mutual always.” It is easy to see why this type of relationship would help the two captains lead their team, especially since Lance and York will most likely be starting at shortstop and second base this season, an­choring the infield. “They have complete trust in each other on the ball field,” Lance’s mom Abby says. “If one gets the ball, they know the other one’s going to be at the bag, in a double play situation.” So, the friendship will help Bearden baseball with double plays. However, its main con­tribution to Bearden baseball may be in player development. “Everyday, me and him would go out in the backyard and throw with our dads,” York says. “We would literally be throwing everyday and hitting wiffle balls in the backyard. “Don’t get me wrong, we shot basketball, we threw football, but we really liked baseball and thought we could pursue a career in baseball.” York was the more multi-faceted athlete back in the day, with Lance always having a deep love of baseball. “When I was young, I figured out there was a guy for the New York Yankees named Derek Jeter, and he had my same name,” says Lance, who will play at Tennessee next year. “Hearing my grandfather’s stories about going and watching New York Yankees games, I started having the same dreams of playing Major League Baseball. “I started working to figure out the goals to try to reach that. Me and him together, we pushed each other to play baseball. That’s what we both wanted to do and we pushed each other to get better at whatever we did.” It sounds like Bearden Coach Jack Tate owes a big one to Lance’s grandfather. Though if it weren’t for the two’s love to play in the front yard, the love of baseball might have been wasted. “Sometimes I’d pretend to be the New York Yankees and he’d pretend to be the Boston Red Sox and we’d battle it out,” Lance says. “Sometimes I’d pre­tend to be Derek Jeter and he’d pretend to be Albert Pujols. “Things like that are really what spurred our interest in baseball.” And while the interest in baseball may have needed stirring, the competitive nature was there from birth. “In the carpool it was always who could get out the door the fastest, who could get into the school fastest,” Abby Lance said. This competitive nature has produced great works in the two. Both were all-district last year and keep up good grades. Coach Tate is more than happy with his decisions for his cap­tains. “(Lance) is going to do a great job at (The University of Tennessee) the next four years, and I hope (York) has a chance to play baseball where he wants to in college as well,” Coach Tate says. “They’re great leaders, but the whole senior class is made up of good lead­ers. “They’re two of the best captains we’ve ever had, I guar­antee you.” With eight senior leaders on the team, it is hard to imagine anything but a good baseball season at Bearden, with some thinking it might be the best Bearden has ever had. If this is to come to fruition, though, it will be due to the factors of talent and team chemistry. “We’ve got a lot of talent, we’ve had talent in the past, and Bearden baseball will al­ways have talent, but this year, the way we jell as a team is re­ally going to carry us far,” Lance says. “I’ve been playing with these guys ever since I started playing competitive baseball. “When you build chemistry like we have, it will take us far in the season.” This often talked about aspect of sports counts in the club house and is what drive seasons. However, what is more exciting to Coach Tate is what it might mean for the play of his team when they trade their bats for gloves every inning. “It helps with communica­tion on bunts, fly balls, and ev­ery situation,” Coach Tate says. “I think our guys know what their teammates are going to do, before they do sometimes. It leads to better team cama­raderie and I know it’s going to make us a better defensive team this year.” So the question is for Bearden baseball this year, what will they do with all this talent and chemistry they’ve been building since the age of 2. The players want to give all of it that they can to their beloved coach. “Us knowing that it’s Coach Tate’s last year, we’re wanting come out and finish it the right way,” York says. “Especially with us being seniors, we want to come out and show the district that we are going to be a team to compete with.” If Lance and York can play like Jeter and Pujols, they certainly will be Jacob Steimer is the sports editor for The Bark. Follow The Bark on Twitter @BeardenBARK, and like The Bark (Bearden High School) on Facebook.