Baseball’s Kirt Cormier overcomes tragedy, graduates with support of teammates and athletics family

Kirt Cormier grew up in a household full of baseball lovers. From a young age, the Douglas, Arizona native would watch his father, Ken, coach his older brothers, which is what inspired him to play at the age of four.

"I've played baseball for about as long as I could walk," said Cormier, a history major. "Having my dad as a coach was a huge inspiration for me."

After years of playing and perfecting his skills on the diamond, Cormier got a chance to live his dream of playing Division I baseball for the Alcorn State University Braves baseball team in 2017.

"Playing at Alcorn was a dream come true."

In the midst of Cormier fulfilling his dream, tragedy struck his family. After his first semester at the university, his father, who taught him everything he knows about the game of baseball, died January 18, 2017. His death took a toll on Cormier. Although grieving, he continued to play the sport he loved and was thankful that his coaches allowed him to play during such a hard time.

"The loss of my father left me confused about how I was going to handle the situation, but my coaches allowed me to continue playing the game my father had taught me."

It was during Cormier's bereavement when he realized that he wasn't just a part of Alcorn's baseball team, but also he became a part of a family. His teammates and coaches did everything they could to help him through the loss of his father. Cormier appreciates them for their efforts.

"What got me through all of that was getting to play baseball here at Alcorn. My teammates and coaches turned into my family away from home. They welcomed me with open arms and treated me like one of their own. My teammates turned into my closest friends and always found a way to help me get through everything."

Outside of his baseball family, the entire Department of Athletics staff embraced Cormier. He credits them for keeping him on pace to graduate on time.

"The entire Department was great to me. They allowed me to continue to grow as a human and athlete while I coped with something so difficult. The faculty and staff's care were critical because it kept me on track during the most hectic time in my life. Everyone did a great job of making sure I was able to create time to focus on my degree."

As Cormier's journey at Alcorn comes to a close, he thanks everyone who played a role in his quest.

"Getting my degree is a special achievement, and a proud moment for my family and I. Without the help of the faculty and staff here, I would have struggled to manage school, baseball, and social life."

Cormier said that he plans to return to Alcorn for graduate school in the fall. He's also looking forward to a graduate assistant coaching position with the baseball team next season.