Sports

Lakeland Senior Captain Puts Pressure on the Defense

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James Houlahan takes a big rip against John Jay-Cross River.
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Lakeland senior James Houlahan is a shortstop and team captain on the varsity baseball team.

How old were you when you started playing baseball and how did you get started?

I was 3 years old when I attended a summer camp run by former Lakeland coaches Dennis and Mike Robinson (3R Camp). I went to that camp every summer until I was 13. My father was the one who got me started playing baseball.

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What do you think are your strengths as a baseball player?

I like to put pressure on the defense, especially the left side. Drawing in the third baseman and getting the shortstop to move with fake bunts or slashes opens up holes for me.

As a senior on the team this year, how do you see your role as a leader?

As a leader I find it most important to be a good role model for younger players, on and off the field. To me, a great leader puts his team before himself, but still sticks out.

What is your favorite team activity, pregame or postgame ritual that you share with your teammates?

After games I always try to have a talk with freshman Joe Vetrano. Win or lose we always talk about the game, what we did well, what we should work on and our mindsets going forward.

Who has been your biggest role model over the years and what have you learned from them?

My biggest role model has been last year’s shortstop Trevor McCarthy. He’s taught me so many of the little things about this game. He recently told me that he’s so mad he can’t play just one more game for Lakeland and knowing that I’ll be feeling that one day makes me want to be the best I can be right now.

Tell us one thing about yourself that not a lot of people know?

My dream in life is to own my own autoshop and have three kids named Brooke, Gabriella and Justin.

What does it mean to be able to play for Lakeland?

Playing for Lakeland means more than anyone will ever know. I just can’t imagine myself ever playing for any other school, and that includes colleges.

Do you know what you want to study in college? If yes, what and why?

I’ll be studying automechanics at Morrisville State. I love working on my truck so why not make a career out of doing something you love?

Who is your favorite professional athlete and pro or college sports team?

My favorite pro athlete is Derek Jeter. Joe Torre described him as being trustworthy. Trustworthy in the sense that he’ll come through with a clutch hit or play, but also that he can be counted on to make the right decisions off the field as a man. That’s something that will stick with me forever. Favorite team would be New York Rangers.

What is your favorite music to listen to warming up for a game?

Eminem.

If you could have one super power, what would it be and why?

It would to be able to freeze time and really live in a moment before it slips away and becomes a memory.

If you could pick one place to visit on vacation that you’ve never been to, where would you go and why?

Texas. I’d want to see if it’s a good spot to maybe open up an autoshop one day.

What is your favorite food to eat before or after a game?

Before a game I always go to Lakeland Deli and get a bacon, egg and cheese.

Best place to eat in Lakeland and why?

The best place to eat around here is Bob-B-Q’s. They have the best wings in town.

What advice would you give to a young baseball player growing up in Lakeland?

My advice is to play your heart out, whether you’re 8 or 18. As you get older you can get caught up in many distractions that come along with the game. Always be open to learning, always remember where you came from, and never, ever, take this game for granted.

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