BY KAYLA LOKEINSKY
Out on the baseball diamond, the atmosphere is relaxed as the Cooper City High School baseball team goes through a routine practice. The team begins cycling through the batting line-up and most of the boys remain at ease as they hit doubles and catch fly balls. However, once a particular player steps up to the plate, the team goes silent, taking their stance as they prepare for the ball to come their way. With a look of sheer determination, the batter grinds his hands into his metal bat and steps into the box. He digs the toe of his cleat into the clay and squares off with the pitcher, bending his knees and getting ready to swing. When the ball comes hurtling towards him, he pulls back with all his strength and swings the bat, sending the ball soaring over the fence. With a satisfied smile on his face, Cooper City High School senior Michael Klement begins his victory lap around the bases, proving again that he is a valuable addition to the school’s varsity baseball team.
Klement recently transferred to CCHS from American Heritage High School, and even though he’s a new student, he is fitting right in with the kids he has known all his life. Growing up in Cooper City, he began his baseball career just like any other athlete: playing at the local optimist club.
“I started playing baseball when I was five years old,” Klement said. “It feels good to be back and playing with the same kids I was with when I first started.”
Since discovering his love of baseball, Klement has been training and practicing for the past 13 years in order to achieve what every little boy with a baseball cap and glove dreams of: to become a professional baseball player. With the help of his family and friends, he is gaining skills every time he walks out onto the field.
“My family has always supported my baseball career,” Klement said. “I play baseball every day and I try get as much work in as possible.”
In order to take his baseball skills to the next level, Klement joined a travel baseball team, the South Florida Elite, which is made up of the best high school baseball players in Florida. After trying out and earning a spot as their starting shortstop, Klement became a baseball sensation. He won two national baseball championships, a state championship, and was named the MVP of the national tournament. Also, Klement was featured in the high school edition of ESPN Magazine as one of the best players for his former high school team.
“Being in a national magazine like that was an amazing experience,” Klement said. “It’s one of my greatest baseball accomplishments.”
Now, Klement joins the CCHS varsity baseball team during his senior year and he has proven to be a great addition to the team. From his strong skills to his potential as a team leader, Klement has already earned the respect of many of his teammates.
“Michael is a good addition to the team,” senior Bobby Cargill said. “He brings a positive attitude and also great skills.”
In addition to fitting right in with his new teammates, Klement has also been welcomed with open arms by the CCHS coaching staff. Head coach Christopher Hinley is incredibly excited about this powerful addition to the Cowboys family.
“Michael is strong in many areas,” Hinley said. “He has good hands, a strong arm, and he’s a strong player in general. He can play anywhere on the field, and he’s very talented.”
Currently Klement is ranked as the seventh best baseball player in the state, and 47th on a national level. His batting average is .424, and he’s an all around fielder who mainly sticks with shortstop or catcher. With his strength both in the batters box and on the field, it’s no wonder that there are high hopes for this talented Cowboy.
“Like with anything, becoming a professional baseball player or even a college player takes hard work and dedication,” Hinely said. “If Michael keeps up these things he will make it in the big leagues.”
Just as his coach predicted, Klement is already being seriously recruited by both college and professional baseball teams. His best prospect is the Kansas City Royals, who have shown serious interest in having the 18-year-old all-star play for their minor league team. From getting contacted by scouts to having college and professional coaches watch him play, Klement’s big league aspirations have become closer to reality.
“I would love to play for a professional baseball team,” Klement said. “It’s my dream.”
With his willingness to work hard and play even harder, Klement will no doubt reach his goal of playing professional baseball. There is one thing we know for sure: this Cowboy is already making Cooper City proud when he steps up to the plate.