Baseball From the Nashua Telegraph: "LeLievre leaves Keene State in rear view for fresh start at DWC"
This article is reprinted with permission of the Nashua Telegraph. It ran on March 30, 2011. Learn more about the Telegraph and see the original article by clicking here.
By TOM KING
NASHUA – Korey LeLievre stared straight ahead and didn't hesitate in detailing his failings a year ago at Keene State College.
"The college atmosphere," he said, "got the best of me. It's the first time my parents weren't there to watch my every move."
And most of those moves resulted in the former Alvirne High School baseball standout seeing his initial attempt at a college baseball career go up in smoke as he left Keene after a highly forgettable semester.
And now? LeLievre is attempting to rejuvenate his college career – as well as his college education – at Daniel Webster College, where he can be under the watchful eyes of friends and family.
"I love being here," LeLievre said. "The school is a perfect fit for me. I like the smaller campus. At Keene, you could not see someone you knew for days. Here, everybody knows each other and you run into them every day."
If he stays at Daniel Webster for his four seasons of eligibility it could be that everyone will know about LeLievre. At 6-foot-3, 205 pounds, he is considered a multi-tool player whose speed, athleticism and baseball savvy mean unlimited potential.
Coming out of high school, LeLievre was good enough that Eagles coach J.P. Pyne wasn't even considering trying to recruit the local product, partly because the DWC program was then in a massive rebuilding stage and partly because Pyne believed LeLievre should be playing at a higher level.
"At that stage of our program I wasn't going to waste my time," Pyne said. "He was a guy I didn't think I was going to get."
But once he heard LeLievre had left Keene and was trying to rebuild his life, Pyne felt that Daniel Webster might be a good spot for him. Like many local athletes, LeLievre knew little about the school or its athletic program, but his girlfriend and another friend were students there and he learned a lot more.
Now Pyne has a steady cleanup hitting pitcher/outfielder/DH who, at last look, was hitting .389 and leading the Eagles in RBIs and slugging percentage. He is reunited with 2010 Class L title game foes Darrick Marstaller and Adam Southwell, former Keene High School standouts.
But none of this would've happened if LeLievre, at age 19, didn't decide to take charge of his life. Known as a high school athlete who was always on the straight and narrow, LeLievre by his own admission veered from that approach, partying on campus and often opting not to attend class. Academic reports that students were to fill out and turn in to their head coach at Keene were completed, but none of the information LeLievre allegedly supplied was accurate.
"Everything he was giving me seemed to be the right answers, and then I found out they weren't the right answers," Keene coach Ken Howe said. "It happens more than any coach would like to see it happen. It comes from being away from home for the first time, and we can keep an eye on things somewhat but we can't watch them 24/7."
But there's no hard feelings on Howe's part, and the two have talked a lot since then. "I was excited about him coming here originally, and just as sad to see him leave," Howe said. "But I was happy when coach Pyne called me to tell me he'd be playing at Daniel Webster."
LeLievre felt he didn't really turn his approach around until last summer, when he had torn the cover off the ball playing American Legion for Hudson Post 48, hitting over .500. It was then he said he realized that baseball was important to him and that he needed to change his life.
"Definitely this past summer I learned a lot about life," he said. "I learned I couldn't survive on my own without my family. I got to the point where I hit rock bottom. I really was running out of options with my life. My foundation was my family, and I knew I needed to make changes. I went back home, and my parents took me with open arms. . . . They've had my back the whole time, and I put them through more than I ever should have."
He took a couple of courses at Middlesex Community College but nothing held his interest. But right around Christmas, after speaking with Pyne, he realized he wasn't out of options after all. He was working full time, managed to put the funds he needed together himself and began school in January. At Keene, the courses were picked for him and if he didn't want to go to class he just didn't; here, he's studying Homeland Security but is contemplating a move to sports management, and says "I needed a place like this, close to home so my parents can give me a kick in the butt when I need it. … Not going to classes (at Keene) became an addiction, I had better things to do. I was thinking 'My parents aren't here, they can't tell me not to do this, not to do that, I'll just sleep until noon.' There were other options I had that anyone would rather do than go sit in a classroom."
Now, if he wants to keep playing baseball, LeLievre has no other options. But Pyne has seen it all in his coaching days and is willing to give his newest recruit the benefit of the doubt.
"If I only allowed people who didn't make mistakes in my program," Pyne said, "then I'd be pretty lonely in that dugout. … I'm going to give him respect. He's earned that from me. If you think about it, all the mistakes he's made, he's held himself accountable for them."
LeLievre's father, David, is a former Cleveland Indians farmhand, so LeLievre has baseball in his blood. When he worked out in local indoor batting cages this fall, he could feel the adrenalin rush. He still would like to see how far baseball can take him.
"I still have that dream," he said. "Baseball has played a huge role in my life."
LeLievre has relied heavily on the advice of his high school coach, Alvirne's Mike Lee, Keene's Howe, Pyne, and a host of others.
"They've put their necks on the line for me," he said. "A lot of people wouldn't take a chance on me. I've made mistakes I can't take back."
True, but with a new baseball home, Korey LeLievre is doing the next best thing – he's moving forward.