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Back in town: With Goodwin's camp comes fond memories

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Tyler Clark, back left, helps coach Earl Williams III, 13, while Kansas City Royals outfielder and Rocky Mount native Brian Goodwin watches Saturday at his first annual free camp at Competitive Edge Academy in Rocky Mount.

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BY SAMUEL EVERS
Sports Writer

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Pat Smith, the former Rocky Mount High baseball coach who was in charge when the Gryphons won the 3-A state title in 2008, was a thankful man on Saturday morning.

There was maybe even a tear or two.

“There’s been some great baseball players in the city of Rocky Mount,” he said. “It’s great to see them here.”

From N.C. State sophomore pitcher David Harrison to the nearly 10 players from the 2008 title team, there were a few generations of Gryphons gathered at Competitive Edge Academy in Rocky Mount on Saturday morning, all there to assist in some way in the free baseball camp organized by Kansas City Royal and Rocky Mount native Brian Goodwin, also a part of that 2008 team.

There had been some talk of a 10-year reunion for those players earlier in the year. Saturday’s camp was the rain check.

“We were like, what better way to do it than with the Brian Goodwin camp. Most of the guys came back,” said Jabaris Walker, a longtime friend of Goodwin’s who helped organize the event. “To see it happen, it’s a beautiful thing.”

The 50 or so participants, ranging from young children to high schoolers, were treated to Royals hats provided by the organization, raffle contests for pairs of batting gloves, pizza, and, of course, two hours of baseball help from Goodwin and several others who had success with the sport at the minor league, college and high school levels.

By noon, when the instructional aspect had wrapped up, Goodwin gave a short-and-sweet speech about the camp — it was the first one but he hopes to make it an annual occurrence — and how thankful he was for the sizable turnout.

Walker wasn’t letting him off that easy.

He gave a longer one about Goodwin, and what his journey from Gryphon to Washington National to Kansas City Royal could mean for everyone else from Rocky Mount.

“Like I tell people, whatever you dream can become a reality,” Kelly said later. “You just work at it. Eat, sleep, breath it. That’s in Brian. He’s put in the work to get where he’s at.”

For Goodwin, who was traded from the Nationals to the Royals in July, the camp Saturday morning was an opportunity to give back, to support his sport in his hometown, and to see old friends.

“We get to talk a little bit, but there’s a difference between talking and actually getting to see each other and be in each other’s presence,” Goodwin said. “To get this done and to have everyone here — old teammates, our old coach — it brings back a lot of memories.”

For Smith, who retired from coaching the Gryphons in 2017, it was no different.

“Brian played all four years for us. I can’t say nothing but good things. I don’t think I even chewed on him or nothing in all four years,” Smith said. “You knew what he was going to do everyday. He never grumbled, he never griped even if he went 0-for-4, which was few times. That’s why he is where he’s at.”

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