Devin Springfield had a goal of winning a state title at Conant, and as a senior he did it twice
Recent Conant graduate Devin Springfield always wanted to add to the school’s winning tradition.
And after four years as an Oriole, Springfield can say he was successful. He grew up watching Conant athletics and thinking about the days he would put on the black and orange uniforms.
After coming so close to adding a championship to his resume as a junior, Springfield collected two state titles this year.
As the Division III Player of the Year in basketball, Springfield led Conant to the 10th championship in school history and first since the 2009-10 season.
In baseball, Springfield, a D-III first-team all-state selection, helped the Orioles reach their first finals since 1986 and capture just the second title in program history, snapping a 57-year drought between championships.
And in addition to all the wins, Springfield became just the 17th member of the basketball 1,000-point club at the school.
It has been quite a career for Springfield, who will attend Marianapolis Preparatory School in Connecticut next year for a post-grad year.
On Tuesday, Springfield sat down with Sports Editor Tim Goodwin to answer some questions about his two state championships, what it was like to score his 1,000th point and how he wants to be remembered.
What will you remember most about your four years at Conant?
“I think the baseball championship has a spot of its own. But not only the championships, but definitely making friends with all those guys. Those guys on both teams are family now and making those connections is as important as winning because those are going to be my friends for the rest of my life.”
Did you feel pressure to win it all in basketball?
“There definitely is pressure to win. If you don’t get a championship in basketball, it’s sort of a let down to the town. But we knew we were going to be good and our coach worked us hard. We knew we were the hardest working team, coming in at 7 o’clock on Saturdays. So we didn’t let the pressure affect us too much and we went out and did what we needed to do.”
What did it feel like to win your first state championship in basketball?
“Freshman year I got a little taste of it, but senior year was definitely special to win one. But if I would have gone through high school not winning any state championships I wouldn’t have seen it as a let down because both of my coaches have made me better as a person and made me better to eventually play in college.”
What were your expectations going into baseball? Did you believe you had a team that could win it all?
“I don’t think the whole team did, but I know me and Josh [LeBlanc] did. We knew we were good and that we could make history and we knew how to win. Conant has a vast history of winning and that’s what we do. We have a winners mentality and that’s what gets you over the top from teams that haven’t really won. We know how to win and the winning from basketball carried over to baseball.”
As a junior, both your basketball and baseball ended with semifinals losses. How much did you learn from those losses?
“We definitely learned a lot from those losses. We learned how much it hurt and we knew that we had to work that much harder to get past that point.”
You played soccer as a freshman, why did you decide to give it up?
“I’m pretty sure we didn’t even win a game that year so that was part of the reason why I didn’t go out my sophomore year, but I really knew my future was with baseball and basketball and I needed to use the fall to really prepare for those two sports.”
What did it feel like to win Division III Player of the Year in basketball?
“It definitely feels nice, all my hard work paying off. I actually came in runner-up [as a junior] and thought I should have won it, but I knew if I just played my game that I’d have a good chance of winning it. But I wasn’t thinking ‘I want player of the year.’ If I didn’t win player of the year and got a state championship, I would have been just as happy. Those individual accomplishments are great, but the team accomplishments definitely hold a higher priority.”
How nice was it to have the same two coaches [Eric Saucier and Brian Royal] for all four years?
“It was great. Both coaches are great coaches. They both work us hard and it was nice because I had a chance to develop relationships with them. I’ve seen both coaches grow and change for the better and wouldn’t want to go through high school with any other coaches than them.”
What was the night like when you scored your 1,000th point?
“It was really weird. I was so nervous. My coach drew up the play, I came off the double screen and hit the shot. I kind of wanted to get it out of the way and finish the game, but it was a great accomplishment. Individual accomplishments don’t hold the highest priority, but it’s still nice to get my name on the list with all my relatives.”
What advice would you give to an incoming Conant athlete?
“Definitely work hard. Don’t think just because you go to Conant that the winning just comes. It comes because we work hard and if you don’t put in the work, you’re not going to see the results.”
Looking back at your freshman year, what were some of your goals?
“I definitely wanted a couple state championships, which I got. But overall just being successful and getting better was my goal. I knew coming to Conant that I could get better in each sport, the same as if I want to any other school. State championships are great, but individually I wanted to improve my games.”
What do you want to be remembered for?
“Definitely being a dual-sport athlete. A lot of people think I’m just basketball, but they don’t really know the baseball half of me and that I like baseball just as much as basketball... And being one of the only people to win a basketball and baseball state championship in the same year, that’s pretty special.”
You are going to Marianapolis for a post-grad year. Why did you decide to do that instead of going to college right away?
“It’s been something we’ve been talking about for a while. I’ve always been on the younger side of my grade and I’ve seen some of my friends repeat a year, so it’s been in the back of my head. I’m excited for the opportunity and I’m really going to see how good I am because the competition is great in both sports. It’s basically another year to get ready for college.”
Who has been the biggest influence in your athletic life?
“Definitely my father [David]. He taught me everything I know and he’s the one, even though I wanted to sit on the couch in sixth grade, who took me to the [Franklin Pierce] Bubble every day and worked on my jump shot. Even though I didn’t want to do it then, it’s helped me so much and I have to give the credit to him. He coached me when I was younger and he taught me both games so I have to thank him.”
Did you ever expect that your senior year would consist of two state titles, a Player of the Year award, your 1,000th point and two first-team all-state selections?
“Not maybe to that extent, but I knew I had put in the time so I was going to be successful. After our loss in the [baseball] semis last year, I put up a Facebook post thanking all the fans for their support and my sister, Brooke, commented and said ‘Don’t worry because you’re going to win two state championships next year’ and that’s exactly what happened.”
Is there a teammate or teammates you enjoyed playing with or will miss playing with the most?
“I’m definitely going to miss everybody, but for basketball I’d say the starters, but especially Jake [Carlson]. I grew up playing ball with him since fifth grade. For baseball it would have to be Josh [LeBlanc]. I’d like to say that me and him transformed that program into something special.”
What will you miss most about Conant?
“The fan support from the town. I’ve been to a few of the prep school games and there’s really nobody there, just college coaches. It’s great to have a packed gymnasium and even though in baseball we didn’t get as many fans as we hoped, the championship game was great. There were a lot of fans there. It’s nice walking around and people saying nice game last night.”
What kind of work do you put in outside of practice?
“My dad always told me that you can practice and do the minimum, but it’s really going to be the maximum that will get you better. So I make sure I put in the extra time because I know that’s what is going to separate me from another athlete who is just doing the minimum. You have to do more to be successful.”
How much are you looking forward to coming back next year and seeing the state championship banners?
“Hopefully they get put next to each other and people look up and think those athletes who graduated in 2013 must have been pretty special athletes to put up not only one in basketball that are all around the gym, but baseball where there’s only one other up there.”
The tradition of Conant basketball is well known. What was it like being part of that program?
“It was definitely special. To get a state championship of my own was great, but it was just great to wear that uniform every night and I’m going to miss it.”
What was it like bringing home the first baseball state championship in 57 years?
“It was special. My freshman year we were the 16th seed and I just remember the whole year that nobody really had the fire like they did in basketball. Nobody really took it that serious. But sophomore year we realized we were good and junior year we got a little better. Senior year we all looked around and realized we had the chance to do something special.”