Sons see 'old flame' for baseball in dad's eyes
By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on May 12, 2010 1:47 PM
Mount Olive head coach Carl Lancaster has won a Division II College World Series title in 2008, has amassed 799 career victories, has won nine Conference Carolinas tournament championships and seven regular-season conference titles.
Yet, the opportunity to have his two sons Jesse and Nolan call him "coach," far outweighs any of those other accomplishments.
Jesse is a senior outfielder and unquestioned team leader. Nolan is a sophomore outfielder patiently awaiting his turn in the starting lineup.
"There's nothing that's ever going to compare to having both of my boys on the team," said coach Lancaster. "Winning a national championship is unbelievable, but to have your son on the team then and doing well, the words are hard to explain."
Jesse recovered from a labrum injury early in his collegiate career to be a vital part of the 2008 championship team. He's currently batting .376 with 71 hits, 64 runs scored and 46 RBI.
Jesse was named the 2010 Conference Carolinas' tournament most valuable player.
While his accomplishments on the field are a key ingredient to the Trojans' success, it's his leadership that has been the glue that's held the team together.
"Jesse's always had those type of qualities," said coach Lancaster. "This team here he has certainly taken that role. That's one of the areas where we are going to miss him the most. We have better athletes, but we have no one that plays the game harder than he does."
Reality has begun to set in with Jesse as his college career draws to a close. The experience gained from playing in conference tournaments, NCAA regionals and a Division II College World Series won't be too far from his mind as the Trojans compete in Florence, S.C., this weekend.
"It's weird knowing I'm probably closing in on my last month of playing ball," said Jesse. "Me and dad have done it since I was probably five years old. It's kind of nerve racking on me for a bit. I'm trying to ride this as long as I can ride it."
A standout linebacker and outfielder at Eastern Wayne High School, Nolan continues to learn from his brother's example and prepare himself for the opportunity to roam the outfield for Mount Olive.
"When you've been watching this program for the last three years and you think that about 50 percent of the outfielders that play here get drafted, it makes you think when you get your turn you'll get a chance to get drafted," said Nolan. "I think next year's going to be my opportunity to shine."
Jesse and Nolan have had the privilege of knowing Carl Lancaster -- the baseball coach and the father. They've had the opportunity to watch him grow as not only the face of a highly-successful program, but also as a person.
"My senior year of high school his team at Mount Olive was having a down year and at that point I'm not sure how many years he had left in him," said Jesse. "I don't know if it's more or the success we've had, but I've seen a spark in him. I see some youth in him."
Now in his 24th season as the Trojans' head coach, Lancaster has said he doesn't know how much longer he'll continue coaching. He plans to remain in the dugout as long as he's successful and feels he still shares a connection with his players.
What is certain is that when there is no longer a Lancaster in a Mount Olive uniform, the family's fingerprints will leave a lasting impression.
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