Thursday, September 23, 2021

Sports Person of the Week

Cronk Suits Up for the Easties as a Senior

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Sam Cronk accomplished his goal of competing for the East Haven varsity baseball team in his senior year. Sam was a DH in the lineup and a vocal presence on the bench. Photo courtesy of Sam Cronk

Sam Cronk accomplished his goal of competing for the East Haven varsity baseball team in his senior year. Sam was a DH in the lineup and a vocal presence on the bench. (Photo courtesy of Sam Cronk)

Sam Cronk wanted nothing more than to make the East Haven varsity baseball team as a senior. Sam finally got that chance this year and became a vocal leader for the Yellowjackets who was always rooting on his teammates.

Sam was introduced to baseball by his father Alfred. Sam’s dad started the Foxon Bisons and, with his brother Jakob already on the team, Sam joined himself. Alfred passed away in 2015. Sam says that his father loved baseball and always supported him every step of the way.

“My dad was a big influence on me. I was under him and my older brother’s wing. He would teach me the ways and helped me through everything. He was the face of it all,” Sam says. “It’s amazing knowing that he is there no matter what. He is always watching down on me. I know it meant so much to him that I played my senior season. It was super important to him, so it made it super important to me.”

Aside from playing for the Foxon Bisons, Sam started playing at The Pit when he was eight and in Momauguin Little League at age 10. After playing through 8th grade, Sam was eager to step into a higher level of competition at the high school.

Sam tried out for the Yellowjackets as a freshman, but he didn’t make the team. He returned to The Pit as a sophomore, but got injured early in the season and was unable to play.

However, when Sam reached his senior year, he knew that he needed to be on the varsity diamond. Sam wasn’t going to let what happened in the past affect his performance.

“I knew all my friends were going to play. I just wanted to make my senior year enjoyable and have some fun. I knew I would rather regret playing than regret not playing,” says Sam. “I just got comfortable. There were no worries in me. It was my senior year. I wanted to leave it all out there. I didn’t want to regret not trying my hardest and not leaving it all out there.”

Sam earned his spot on the Easties’ varsity roster this spring. He played most of the season as a rotational designated hitter, while also playing one game at third base. Sam says that making the team was one of his proudest moments.

“It was one of the greatest memories I think I’ll ever have in my life,” Sam says. “It was like a family. Everybody came together. No matter if we lost by 20, we would all go home and come back wanting to win the next game. Everybody just left it all out there.”

Sam didn’t see everyday playing time, but rather than complain, he used that situation to his advantage. Sam became a vocal leader from the bench and was constantly cheering on his fellow Yellowjackets.

“Even if you don’t play, you can still help. Winning meant so much to me. I would do anything to try and help my team win,” says Sam. “I embraced the bench role. If I can’t help on the field, I might as well help on the bench.”

Head Coach Butch Johnson took note of how much Sam had matured during his time away from the program. Once he had the opportunity to coach the senior, Coach Johnson knew that he had found a leader both on and off the field.

“The ultimate team player. He would play anywhere, anytime,” Johnson says of Sam. “He was into the game even if he wasn’t playing.”

Now that he’s graduating from East Haven, Sam plans on attending Gateway Community College before transferring in order to pursue a degree in psychology.

As a senior, Sam played for East Haven on the varsity level alongside senior captains Nick Furino and CJ Lombardi, fellow seniors Trey Garea, Tom Sabin, Jake Cillo, Alec Madureira, Devin Guliani-Santiago, and Andrew Voira, as well as junior captain Dom Golia. Aside from being teammates, Sam says that they will all be brothers forever.

“It meant a lot to me to be a part of the team this year. The moments that I had with my teammates, I know we’re ride or die forever,” Sam says. “We’ll be by each other’s sides for the rest of our lives.”


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