Occidental tags Miners’ Feasler
April 30, 2010
In four years starting for the Park City High School baseball team, David Feasler not only molded himself into a player who could continue to play at the next level, he gave other Miners the blueprint to do the same.
PCHS head coach Terry Phillips said Feasler’s example in the gym, the classroom and the dugout has built a team-wide work ethic that is unique in his experience coaching high school players. This year’s Miners, he said, are closer than any group he’s ever seen, and it’s been a battle to get into the batting cage ever since the team finished fourth in Class 3A last year.
"When one guy goes and works his butt off and gets results, guys see that it works," Phillips said. "I’m not lying – there are better athletes in the world than David Feasler. But nobody works harder than David Feasler. And that’s it. Baseball’s a game where you can work really hard and be good at it."
Feasler, named honorable mention all-state by the Deseret News last season, is hitting .333 with two home runs and a team-leading 20 RBI while sporting a 2.41 ERA on the mound. Senior teammates Les Ashwood, David Snyder and Dakota Matherly have all played with Feasler since he moved to Park City from Connecticut in sixth grade, and they form a core that might lead the Miners into contention for a state championship.
Even at the start of the season, Phillips said he has never seen a group of teammates get together as much as this year’s Miners. Those bonds have become stronger since the abrupt passing of 23-year-old assistant coach Keith Otis in early April, and the Miners’ dugout – with its nonstop whooping and hollering – is a far cry from the team’s relative indifference during Feasler’s first season.
"When I was a freshman, I looked up and said, ‘When I’m a senior, it’s not going to be like this,’" Feasler said. "Now, it’s exactly how I wanted it to be. They’re a great group of guys."
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The Miners’ de facto leader was impressed by a recent visit to Division III’s Occidental College and announced his intent to play there next season. He spent two nights at the school – located just outside of Los Angeles – and stayed with the team and coach Jason Hawkins.
"It’s like a perfect fit for the guy," said Phillips, who, incidentally, played at the same junior college as Hawkins (Western Oregon). "He gets to go to a school where he has class 16 hours a week and baseball 50 hours a week. For him, that’s a dream come true."
Academics are central to the mission at Occidental College, which ranks among the nation’s leading liberal arts universities. Feasler plans to major in economics and minor in education with hopes of some day becoming a high school teacher and a baseball coach.
"He could be my assistant coach now," Phillips said. "He knows how I think, he knows what’s going on. I bounce more things off him than any other player. At some point, if he could be a kid who came back and coached against me, that would be a lot of fun."
For now, though, Feasler gets to keep on playing. He will man third and first while occasionally pitching for the Tigers, and he’ll likely see time right off the bat. Reached for comment, Hawkins was handcuffed by regulations for incoming recruits, but he was able to speak with Phillips about his opinion of Feasler.
"He’s super excited," Phillips said. "He said he’s definitely one of the best recruits he’s had for a long time. He hopes David will turn that program around like he has here."
Occidental was hit with a few major injuries last year, but Feasler said they’re heading in a good direction. Most important to Feasler is that hard work – his forte – pays off as a Tiger.
"One thing that I like a lot is that he expects guys to put in work in practice and he plays everybody in games as a result of practice," he said. "Practice time becomes game time for everybody."
Feasler said baseball has been his passion since he first moved to Park City, but his zest for training really took off in high school. He trains about three hours a day, four or five times a week, at the Basin Recreation Fieldhouse, where his dad comes to throw to him.
"It kind of took over my life," Feasler said. "I spent at least half of my life hitting, lifting and playing baseball."
He’s not done for Park City yet. The Miners – who were scheduled to play Carbon on Friday afternoon in a doubleheader and saw games against ALA pushed to Monday, May 3 – have their eyes on a regional and state title, and Feasler thinks that target is not so far-fetched.
"I think we all know we have a chance, we’ve just got to put it together," Feasler said. "I’ve been telling the guys – I was around last year, a lot of these guys weren’t – this team is good. That it’s mostly mental, that we’re good, and that we can go to the next level."
Easy to say, when you’ve proven it.