BY JEFF FALK
He is one of those rare athletes who can excel at any sport which he sets his mind to. For Preston Bare, that’s the easy part.
Making up his mind is where Bare runs into difficulties. The Palmyra football star is almost unequivocally sure that he’s a baseball player at the next level.
A few months ago, the Cougar senior verbally committed to play baseball at the Division One University of Longwood in Virginia. But as he and his Palmyra teammates continue to excel on the gridiron like never before, Bare is beginning to draw interest from some Division One-AA football programs.
“I’ve been playing baseball since I was five years old,” said Bare, Lebanon County’s leading rusher and scorer. “It’s all I wanted to do. In the seventh grade, I started playing football, and I liked it more. But then I got to high school and I started switching back to baseball.”
Bare has been offered about a 50-percent athletic grant-in-aid to compete for Longwood, which plays an independent Division One schedule. The national signing day for college baseball is next month.
“I’m getting interest from football schools,” Bare reported. “But I’m leaning towards baseball and sticking to it.
“During the summer, it was in my mind where I wanted to go for baseball,” Bare continued. “I didn’t even think I was going to play college football. But when football started, I started getting stuff from football schools.”
Bare has been invited by the University of New Hampshire to attend a home football game and watch it from the sideline. Holy Cross has also expressed interest in the speedy 6-0, 200-pound Bare.
“I think there’s a chance I could reconsider,” said Bare. “I’d like to visit New Hampshire. But I just love baseball so much right now. It’s what I love doing. There’s a chance, but I’m pretty much leaning towards baseball.
“With (UConn football recruit) Jon Hicks on the team, he’s a nationally known player and one of the best middle linebackers in the country,” continued Bare. “That gets our team recognition. Plus we’re 5-0.”
Yes, there is the matter of that.
For now, Bare is a baseball player concentrating on football, trying not to be distracted by outside influences. But also one not totally focusing all of his energy on football.
“It’s a great start,” said Bare of the Cougars’ unblemished mark. “We’re having tons of fun. We’re getting the community involved and getting so many people to the games. And people are believing in us.
“I think I have a pretty good sense of the season I’m having,” added Bare. “I didn’t think some of these things would happen, the yardage and all the touchdowns.”
From a personal standpoint, Bare is not approaching the rest of Palmyra’s season as the last organized football he will ever play – even though it may very well be.
“Yeah, I think about that a lot,” said Bare. “I’m looking at it like it’s going to be my last season with the Palmyra high school team any way. I’m going to miss playing on Friday nights.
“It definitely makes us want to go harder,” Bare concluded. “When we were in junior high, we really had a good team. We’re seniors, and when we were sophomores half of the starting defense was made up of our class. We just need to savor every moment for as long as it lasts.”
And how time seems to speed up when you’re having fun.