Xavier baseball’s Coach Holloway, left-handed pitcher and outfielder Blair Frederick, and center fielder Coco Simoneaux stand in the Annex Center before practice.
Many higher education institutions initially put a hold on athletic programs during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Xavier has done the complete opposite by reinstating the men’s baseball program after 61 years. In September 2019, Xavier announced the return of the athletic program for the 2020-2021 academic year. This brought nothing but excitement to prospective college students who wanted to pursue college athletics at a historically Black university.
Among them was Blair Frederick, a New Orleans native, and the Xavier baseball team captain. Frederick is a left-handed pitcher and outfielder who is a graduate student currently pursuing a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction at Xavier. He recently transferred from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.
He said that his family’s history at Xavier heavily influenced his decision to attend the institution. His mother, father, grandma, aunt, and uncles are all graduates from Xavier.
“A lot of my family members attended Xavier,” Frederick said. “When it was announced that there would be a baseball program,” Frederick explained, “it was a no brainer for me to keep those family ties strong.”
The relaunch of an athletic program after six decades is a major move for an HBCU, said Adrian Holloway, the head coach of Xavier’s baseball program. He shared that he is honored to be able to coach a new team, which includes talent and leadership of Frederick.
“It was a privilege and honor to receive this position to coach such a great group of guys like Blair,” Holloway said. “Xavier has such a prestigious reputation along with leadership…I’m more than excited to see what is in store for the program.”
Being part of a program that has not been around on campus for a while can leave players with a bit of uncertainty about how the sport would be perceived. However, Frederick said he was positive that it would be a good thing for the community.
“It means a lot to be a part of history,” Frederick said. “Not many people get that opportunity… so I’m excited to be here.”
Fellow team captain, Coco Simoneaux, is a center fielder from Port Allen, La. He is a junior who is majoring in business marketing. As team captains, Simoneaux and Frederick, both possess great leadership skills, their coach said.
“Blair and I have just made history as team captains at Xavier,” Simoneaux said. “It is a great feeling to be part of a newly revamped program.”
Many student-athletes have professional athletes whose careers they admire. Frederick said his favorite baseball player is Mookie Betts, a professional baseball right fielder for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Frederick said he admires Betts’ attitude.
“I like him because he always goes out and competes,” Frederick said. “The way he plays is how I wish to,” Frederick explained, “I strive to compete and be the best that I can.”
The return of baseball at Xavier has added a new form of sports entertainment on campus. The program has been receiving strong support from the community through game attendance.
“We get a lot of support from the alumni and different people around the city,” Holloway said. “Now that the program is back… a lot of guys want to come play here.”
Frederick added that he is pleased to see the support from fans and the community.
“It’s a great feeling to have everyone here looking forward to watching you play,” Frederick said. “It makes me want to compete ten times more.”
With the relaunch of the baseball program, Holloway wants to put Xavier baseball on the map.
“My vision for the program is to build something that makes all Xavierites proud,” Holloway said. “The goal is to build a championship-contending program with guys like Blair that can last for many years to come.”