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THREE DAYS after learning that it was one of seven sports that were being cut by Temple's athletic department effective next July for budgetary reasons, the Owls baseball team voted unanimously yesterday to play its final season.
There had been concerns that maybe too many of the 34 players on the roster would decide to transfer.
The meeting was called by head coach Ryan Wheeler, who came to North Broad Street two seasons ago.
"He's been very supportive through all of this, just letting everyone know their options," said captain Matt Hockenberry, a senior pitcher. "But we're all in. We're all pretty pumped. It's phenomenal. Let's just say there's a fire that's been started, and it's not going to die any time soon.
"The meeting was more anger-driven. From a motivational standpoint, we were looking at how awesome it would be if, even for one year, we could do something really great as a slap in the [administration's] face. As part of our mission statement this fall, we came up with, 'Band of Brothers.' At the time, none of us thought this was going to happen. Now that it has, it's like there's a reason we came up with that. Because at this point in time we all need to stick together."
Their home games will be at Camden's Campbell Field, where the minor league Riversharks play, instead of on the Ambler campus.
"That's a huge asset," said Hockenberry. "It sucks that we only gained it for one year. Instead of having 400 seats, there's [6,425]. So there's potential to see if we can make a push to save the program.
"As of right now, that's up in the air. [Temple's] said there's no chance. But I don't think it's completely over yet. There's always the potential that some influential alumni could make a financial donation, especially because the program's been around since 1927. It isn't like it just started 20 or 30 years ago."
Practice is scheduled to start on Jan. 17. The season begins some 3 weeks after that.
"Why not go out and win?" Hockenberry asked. "Show them what they'll be losing."
Crew, another program that's being cut, will try to bring attention to its situation on Saturday at 11 a.m. at the Fairmount Park Canoe Club on Kelly Drive, next to its condemned boathouse. Dozens of Owl rowers past and present are gathering with their medals, cups and trophies to represent what the university is giving up should it not reverse its decision.