Ever since he was four years old, Justin Hooker has found joy in the sport of baseball. Now in his senior year on the baseball team at Elizabeth City State University, Hooker reflects fondly on a sport he has loved since picking up a bat as a young boy in his backyard.
“It is a freedom to play baseball,” said Hooker.
Before the start of each game, Hooker puts on his earphones and listens to music so he can focus on the game.
As Hooker walks onto the field, he is wearing his lucky Nike socks and under his lucky number seven Vikings jersey is his lucky yellow shirt he received at a baseball camp at Northeastern High School.
However, it is not the lucky clothing that Hooker said is the key to his success in baseball—it is a supportive family structure.
“They supported me 100 percent,” said Hooker.
Despite the sweltering temperatures on humid summer days, Hooker said his parents and grandparents attended all of his games.
Hooker’s first experience on a team occurred while playing t-ball in an Elizabeth City Parks and Recreation league. He said he enjoyed playing with his friends, which commenced his passion for the game.
It is vital to “work hard and focus, but enjoy yourself” when you play, explained Hooker.
After t-ball, Hooker played youth ball in Camden County. When he reached middle school, he played on the school team and played summer ball with the Elizabeth City Parks and Recreation.
Hooker excelled on the baseball team at Northeastern and was recruited during his senior year to play with ECSU. He said it was an opportunity to play baseball in his hometown and have a starting position as a freshman on a team.
A shortstop for his first three years on the team, Hooker now plays second base.
“I feel comfortable at second base,” said Hooker. “I have a good baseball IQ. I know what I need to do when I get on the field.”
Hooker, who also played basketball at NHS, said he is inspired by the words of his favorite athlete, Michael Jordan, “To learn to succeed, you must first learn to fail.”
Hooker works in his family’s business, Clear Water Pools, and he enjoys motocross racing. Majoring in sports management with a concentration in business administration, Hooker said he is going to strive for a career in promotion and sponsorship.
“If I ever got an opportunity to coach, I would love to coach,” said Hooker.
In the last season of his college career, Hooker said he knows after the last inning comes to an end he will be speechless.
“Not everybody can go out there and play,” said Hooker who has appreciated his experience on the diamond.
Anna Goodwin McCarthy is a correspondent for The Daily Advance.