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Howard University’s club baseball team aims for historic success 

The coaching staff and members of the Howard University club baseball team share their hopes for the upcoming season and the impact they wish to make for years to come.

A club baseball member prepares to bat for hitting practice. (Kayla Barlow/The Hilltop)

Under a night sky, at batting cages behind Howard University’s MET Building, Howard University’s new club baseball team hits balls on turf littered with autumn leaves. 

Club team members express they are putting in work throughout their off-season so they can achieve their two goals: to become an official team and to have a mostly winning record. 

The team’s head coach Jamal McKay, who is also president of Banneker City Little League, believes these goals are well within reach. 

“The kids are super athletic and their baseball IQ is high,” McKay stated. 

“I want to go undefeated in the club season and raise the money that we’re talking about raising so that they can’t deny us from becoming a [Division One] baseball team,” he added.

Becoming a Division One team was something the founder and president of the club team, Howard University senior Jullian Lee, said he had in mind when he started the club team. 

“The goal was to one, bring baseball back to Howard, but also [help baseball] become prevalent again in the black community,” Lee said. “I felt as if Howard was really a good place for that to get started being a prominent HBCU in the country.” 

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“Baseball had always been a passion of mine, and it really hurt my heart that Howard University didn’t have an opportunity for young black men to come out and play,” Lee said about starting the club team. 

Now that the club team is a member of the National Club Baseball Association (NCBA), Lee voiced he feels they are on track to hit their goals. 

“Short-term growth goal for us is to have success in our upcoming season this spring, our start date is in March,” Lee said. “And for us, long term is to be reinstated as a varsity National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) team for Howard University.”

As part of his mission to make the club team permanent, Lee conveyed he has done his best to foster camaraderie amongst the team by helping coach players and making friendships on and off the field. 

“For us, it’s really been easy for us to kind of mold and gel together as a team,” Lee expressed. “I can consider everybody on that team, one of my brothers now, so I think it’s really special, an amazing group of guys that we have been, we’ve really been building our camaraderie as we’ve moved forward.” 

That camaraderie is something Kevin Barrow, freshman Howard University club baseball team member, conveyed that sets Howard’s team apart from others. 

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“We all want to win, but we also want to have fun and get to know each other and be friends outside of this, and I think that’s probably the biggest difference between this and what I’ve been doing my whole life,” Barrow said.

Julian Lee, club team president, helps another member with their batting form at practice. (Kayla Barlow/The Hilltop)

Assistant coach Carlisle Sealy, a Howard graduate, believes this team dynamic will inspire future generations of black baseball players, including his sons. 

“When we get together as a team, we have time to fellowship, we have time to build,” Sealy said. 

“And when we bring our boys around looking at them, they’ll see the connection and be able to say okay, this is bigger than just being out here on the diamond, but there’s something that we’re building for the future,” Sealy continued.

The team’s members are also inspired by the future possibilities that lie ahead. 

“When I heard there was another opportunity for me to play again, and actually have a chance to make history again, it really sparked me and inspired me,” said Armoni Flint, Howard University junior and treasurer of the club team. 

According to HU News Service, Howard’s first baseball team, founded in 2009, was dissolved after just two games due to what the article calls “the Black college baseball problem” of lack of interest and insufficient funding. 

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Thanks to Julian Lee’s leadership, the team now has around 20 members, Flint said. 

Another team member prepares to pitch for hitting practice. (Kayla Barlow for The Hilltop)

To sustain their team, Flint and fellow team members have undertaken fundraising initiatives. They host clinics in partnership with the Banneker City Little League where they impart knowledge of the game to aspiring young players. The team has actively engaged with sponsors to obtain funds for equipment.  

Meanwhile, the Howard University softball team has shown their support. Head coach Tori Tyson showcased solidarity by donating $1000 to the club team. Additionally, the softball team has also attended the club team’s scrimmages, providing encouragement and cheers. 

Head coach Jamal McKay stated that as the club team matures, he hopes to use the funds the team acquires to help out other organizations.  

“I heard that some of the girls just started a rugby team and a figure skating team,” McKay said. 

“They’ll need funds as well and we will be willing to help them out through all the support that we get from the community.” 

Until then, Assistant Coach Angel Martinez said he’s looking forward to the continued support from Howard’s student body as the team enters its opening season. 

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“Once you’re playing for that name across your chest and you have people out there cheering that name, it just does something to your persona,” Martinez said. 

The club team is hopeful that it will have success in the new season. Their first game will be held in March and more information can be found on their Instagram page.

Copy edited by D’ara Campbell


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