Michigan State Prepares For First Home Game Since Deadly ShootingFeatures
Jake Boss Jr. was in a panic.
The Michigan State coach was unable to locate two of his baseball players on the evening of Feb. 13, when a mass shooter killed three Spartans students and injured five others, some of them quite seriously.
Thirty minutes of frantic phone calls resulted in Boss finally able to account for the final two players on his roster that he had not yet heard from – righthander Adam Berghorst and catcher Bryan Broecker.
Michigan State’s older players live off campus. But the freshmen were especially vulnerable during the shooting because they live in a dorm, where they had barricaded themselves by pushing couches and chairs in front of their doors.
“As a coach – but also as a father who has one son in college and one daughter who just graduated – you go into that mode where you are extremely concerned for your players’ safety,” Boss said.
“I had a hard time finding Adam and Bryan, and that was a long half-hour. I kept texting and calling their roommates. ‘Where are these guys?’
“As it turned out, (Berghorst) didn’t have his phone on him. (Broecker) was in our engineering building and ended up having to stay there for three or four hours.
“Thank God, they were both just fine.”
The same could not be said for the three students who were murdered that night – Arielle Anderson, Brian Fraser and Alexandra Verner.
Baseball is insignificant when compared to the loss of life.
Michigan State’s baseball players — just like every other caring person on campus — have grieved over the loss of their fellow students. They are honoring Arielle, Brian and Alexandra by wearing a “Spartan Strong” sticker on the back of their batting helmets.
“Our guys were admittedly pretty shaken up by what happened, which is very understandable,” Boss said. “(Mass shootings are) happening at a lot of places, but it’s different when it hits this close to home.”
The Spartans, after starting the season with 19 games away from East Lansing, will play their home opener on Friday afternoon against Big Ten rival Purdue, and it will be another opportunity to pay tribute to the memory of Arielle, Brian and Alexandra.
“I think it’s important we acknowledge what happened and to honor those victims,” Boss said. “They shouldn’t be forgotten. Those were three special people on our campus. We want to keep their memory alive.”
Spartans second baseman Trent Farquhar said the shootings forced him and his teammates to ponder their mortality and their love for baseball.
“Not just our lives, but baseball can be taken away from us at any moment with something tragic like that,” Farquhar said. “This has put a new perspective into our eyes.”
Farquhar’s brother Tate is a freshman pitcher on the Spartans. Tate was in that freshman dorm the night of the shooting.
The nightmare of that night has brought the Michigan State team even closer to their Spartans community.
“Being a Northern team and on the road for the first five or six weeks of the season, coming home is always special,” Trent Farquhar said. “We’re hoping that being back home will give the community something they can rally around.”