Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Beyond the Boxscore | Winning Isn't Everything for Venice Coach Craig Faulkner

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Beyond the Boxscore | Winning Isn't Everything for Venice Coach Craig Faulkner

Article excerpt

FEATURED SPORT BASEBALL

VENICE -- They're running out of the room on the flagpole that towers over Venice High's baseball field.

There's the American flag that sits on top, of course. Below it are four green and white banners representing the program's four state titles. All have come since 2007. And they take up an entire side of the pole that stands near the visiting team's bullpen.

Winning has become expected for Venice's baseball team, which has made five straight trips to the state semifinals. This year's edition has done little to dull the hysteria -- the Indians defeated Parkland Stoneman Douglas, ranked No. 1 in the nation at the time, earlier this season, and allowed five runs in four games last week while going 3-1 during the Sarasota Baseball Classic.

Their home games are usually packed with fans. Then again, so are the road games, as Indians baseball fans have been known to turn a visiting chunk of bleachers into a sea of deep green.

"There's no doubt the community expects us to win. We like that, we're OK with that. We want to win, too," said head coach Craig Faulkner. "Sometimes, if you don't win it all, it can be a downer ... if your goal every year is to win it all. And that is not our No. 1 goal."

Maybe some of the Indians faithful were disappointed following last year's extra-innings loss to Tampa Gaither in the Class 7A state championship. Faulkner was too, of course. But at Venice, Faulkner said success isn't measured in banners.

"It's just high school baseball," he said. "It's important to us that these kids leave this program better than they came, their character is strong, their commitment, their attitude, how they go about their business, their commitment to their schoolwork, all those kinds of things. That's our main focus. So, with that in mind, whether you get to the final four or not, you can accomplish that goal."

The Indians work as reading mentors at area middle schools and routinely visit nursing homes. They are also involved in Venice Challenger Baseball, which is for children and adults dealing with physical and cognitive challenges, and also work with Habitat For Humanity. …

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