Surrounded by his parents, coaches, teammates, friends, teachers, administrators and other well-wishers at Newark High School, senior Ben Cowles recently signed a national letter of intent to attend University of Maryland and play NCAA Division I baseball with the Terrapins.
“I’m very excited about getting on campus,” Cowles said. “I’ve met all the teammates; they are a great group of guys.’’
Undecided yet about what he will major in at University of Maryland, Cowles didn’t hesitate to share his ultimate dream.
“I really want to get drafted,” he said. “I want to play professional baseball.”
Varsity baseball coach Mike McGavisk doesn’t think Cowles’ dream is out of the realm of possibilities.
“Ben is a special player, and I think in his case the sky’s the limit,’’ McGavisk said. “I’ve been coaching baseball 24 years — three as the JV head coach and 21 as the varsity head coach — and we’ve never had a baseball player sign a Division I scholarship before. It’s a really big deal. Maryland is in the Big 10 Conference.
“Ben has all the tools a great player needs. He has speed. He has a great swing. Not only does he have the physical ability, but has the mental toughness and work ethic. He’s got that grit you need to be successful. His level of preparation is amazing. He plays in tournaments all over the east coast on the PAC team in June, July and August. During the off-season, he trains with Dave Roth at PAC in East Rochester several nights a week. He does personal weight training with Brad Steve every day right after school. He’s a self-starter, and he just works and works. He never stops. He’s always trying to make himself better. He’s exceptional at his craft.”
McGavisk said much of the credit for Cowles’ success is because of his parents, Darren and Roxanne Cowles.
“I give huge credit to them,” McGavisk said. “They’ve been so supportive all these years, including traveling all over the east coast for summer baseball and his tournaments.”
Darren Cowles said he and his wife are proud of their son and his accomplishments.
“We want to thank all of his coaches and friends who’ve looked out for Ben,” he said. “We really want to thank Coach McGavisk and Mrs. McGavisk for all her guidance and academic counseling.”
Recruited by 12 big-name schools, Darren Cowles said his son chose Maryland because of its coaching staff and the academic program.
“That was the whole key,” Darren Cowles said. “Their beliefs and values. Not just about baseball, but about helping to raise quality young men and their dedication to their education.”
Roxanne Cowles echoed her husband’s sentiments, and added that her son would not have been seen by all the big schools had he not played with the PAC team and trained with them for four years. She also credited Steve’s training with her son for almost three years.
While her son loves playing basketball, Roxanne Cowles said he won’t be able to this year because he is busy training after school and evenings readying himself for Maryland.
Chris Corey, athletic director for Newark Central School District, spoke during the ceremony before Cowles signed with Maryland in the NHS Library.
“Thank you everyone for joining us to celebrate Ben’s signing,’’ Corey said. “It is a privilege to be here to honor such a committed, driven athlete. Oddly enough, it is Ben whose attendance at this ceremony I questioned the most. I half thought he would tell me he was too busy taking batting practice and ground balls to come. If you were on our campus in the evenings this fall, I am sure you were greeted with the constant ping of a bat as Ben took countless swings in preparation for next spring and summer. Those extra pings are why we are here.
“Now, a little about Ben. He has chosen not to play basketball this upcoming season, but I would be remiss if I did not mention his success as a multi-sport athlete. Ben was a starter on the varsity boys basketball team the past two years, helping lead the Reds to a sectional title in 2016 and the sectional final one year ago. Notably, Ben hit a shot against Midlakes with two seconds to go, eventually advancing the Reds in the sectional tournament. We not have won sectionals in 2016 without Ben.
“Ben has been a starter on the varsity baseball team since his ninth-grade year, but played a few varsity games when he was in eighth grade. In his career, he has a .401 average with 84 runs scored and 42 bases stolen. As a sophomore in 2016, Ben batted .414 with 17 RBIs, 25 runs scored and 10 stolen bases. He was named first-team all-league as an infielder.
“This past season as a junior was Ben’s finest as he hit a blistering .528 with 38 hits, 17 of which were extra-base hits. He had 25 RBIs, 35 runs scored and 21 stolen bases. His on-base percentage was an amazing .638, and slugging was .891. On the mound, batters only hit .155 off of Ben while he struck out 26 batters in just 24 innings. All of this led Ben to being named the 2017 Finger Lakes East Player of the Year and third-team all-state as a shortstop.
“Ben’s family has produced a long line of athletes here at Newark, and as coaches and directors we are always careful to make sure these student-athletes are free to be their own person and create their own path. Ben didn’t need our help with this. He wants to be great and has put the work in to do so.
“On behalf of the Newark athletic department and Newark Central School District, I am happy to congratulate Ben Cowles on the signing of his national letter of intent to play baseball at the University of Maryland.”
Immediately after the signing, Cowles thanked his family, coaches, teammates and friends for their ongoing support. NHS Principal Tom Roote commended Cowles for not only being a great athlete, but a good student.
“He’s always carried himself like I’d expect of any student-athlete,’’ Roote said. “He embodies our school’s values. In particular, he’s respectful to all adults and his classmates. I look forward to seeing some Terrapins baseball.
Superintendent Matt Cook praised Cowles for his achievements.
“It’s been a pleasure to watch Ben compete as a Newark athlete over the last several years,” Cook said. “More important is the lesson for all of us about how hard work and perseverance can pay off in the long run. We all have talents, but not everyone puts in the time that Ben has.”