Phillips’ U.S. stay nearing end

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 17, 2004

If it all ended today, Shane Phillips still wouldn’t complain one bit. But it’s far from ending for the Australia native, and that’s what makes his story so interesting.

It could have been close to the end this summer following his final season on the diamond with Alcorn baseball. The big 6-2, 212-pound catcher served as a dependable man behind the plate for the Braves, put up decent numbers hitting and had a productive career.

When it came time to try out for the scouts, well, he’s still waiting for a phone call. Independent ball, they said, could be an option, but don’t think he’s holding his breath.

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Phillips loves baseball &045; it’s what got him to Alcorn in the first place &045; but he has other things to do.

&uot;I’d rather go play some football,&uot; Phillips said.

The time will come for that a week from today. He’ll enter his third season as punter for school’s football team, the result of just being in the right place at the right time three summers ago.

But that, too, may come to an end. Phillips is 18 credits away from earning his bachelor’s degree in communications and is planning to take the remaining courses this fall to graduate in December.

This summer instead of going home for the break he spent the time interning at WLBT in Jackson with Rob Jay, Chuck Stinson and rest of the sports staff there. It was time well spent as he staffed high school games and Jackson Senators action and traveled to Atlanta in conjunction with the Braves announcing the move of their double-A team to Pearl.

It was Jay who pulled at Phillips’ leg at the end of the summer by giving him a going-away present on the air &045; a Jackson State helmet.

&uot;I just gave it back to him,&uot; Phillips said. &uot;(The internship) went really well. That was a lot of fun. I learned more in six weeks than I did in 3 1/2 years in school.&uot;

He’s got that going for him along with being a punter. Voted second team Preseason All-SWAC, Phillips averaged 38.6 yards per punt last year and had a season-long boot of 58 yards. And that came with an erratic deep snapper.

The Braves have a new deep snapper this year, and he’s hoping a breakout year could lead to something.

&uot;I’m shooting for about 45 this year,&uot; Phillips said. &uot;That’s my goal. I don’t want to get below 40 again. I’ve been working out a lot this summer.&uot;

When that ends, Phillips may stay and work toward a master’s degree. Or he could take the bachelor’s and go find a real job.

&uot;I may go home and get a job &045; stop living off my parents and make money for myself,&uot; he joked. &uot;I kind of want to get into ESPN or something sports. I want to be behind the camera and not in front of the camera.

&uot;I think I’ll be able to find a job (back home), but it’s a competitive market.&uot;

But he won’t complain. He may have spent four years under the radar at a tiny historically black college in Mississippi, but he’ll have a degree while having played two sports.

He reached his own American dream. How could he complain?

Adam Daigle

is sports editor of The Natchez Democrat. Reach him at (601) 445-3632 or at