August 2020

Shane Monahan: Lowcountry’s Newest Major League Neighbor

Author: Nina Greenplate | Photographer: M.KAT Photography

Short of hearing voices in a cornfield like Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams, a bit of baseball magic has appeared in the heart of Bluffton, South Carolina. “Kids should always realize their own dreams,” said Shane Monahan, former Major League Baseball (MLB) player and South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame inductee. He is going the distance, right here in the Lowcountry, sharing his expertise for the game he loves so much. South East Baseball (SEB) is a powerful baseball academy, new to the Lowcountry and the coastal Georgia region.

SEB and its teams, The Solar Sox, focus on player development, helping each athlete reach his fullest potential. Passion, attitude, hustle and organization are at the academy’s heart, centered on fundamentals and personal player development. Players on the Sox teams for the fall will have an automatic place on the spring and summer roster. Tryouts will occur for athletes coming in after the season start. “We ask each player what they want to achieve,” Monahan said. “We can help them get there.”

Personal commitment level is also a determining factor. Monahan believes competition at the highest level in the country will help players grow as athletes on and off the ball field. This intensifies the sport itself, so to speak, and works to improve their game. A clear mission statement promises to teach “confidence, a winning attitude, how to manage failure, professionalism, strategy, preparation, energy, and how to be a great teammate.”

Monahan’s affection for this beloved American pastime is matched only by his devotion to his players. “Every kid I have ever coached becomes part of my family. I will always be loyal to them,” he said.

Monahan was a standout from a young age. He was drafted by the Atlanta Braves out of high school in 1992 but decided to first attend Clemson University. There, he broke several ACC and collegiate records, and in 1994, led the NCAA with 137 hits—a record still standing today. He is also an inductee to Clemson’s Athletic Hall of Fame. During the 1994-1995 seasons, Monahan was a two-time All-American in the ABCA, Baseball America, Collegiate Baseball, and NCBWA polls.

The following year, Monahan was the thirty-first pick in the overall draft, swinging for the Seattle Mariners for two seasons. Monahan played on minor league affiliates of the Mariners, Cincinnati Reds, San Diego Padres, Colorado Rockies, Pittsburgh Pirates, and the Kansas City Royals. His energy and love of baseball helped create the academy, as did his love of family, which brought him to Hilton Head Island.

Born in Syosset, New York and raised in Marietta, Georgia, Monahan comes from a long line of sports greats. His father, Hartland, is a retired Canadian ice hockey player in the National Hockey League (NHL). Grandfather, Joseph (Boom Boom) Geoffrion, a Canadian NHL player and coach, was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1972 and named one of the top 100 greatest NHL players in history. Although he played ice hockey from a young age, Monahan first put his hands on a bat the year his hometown ice skating rink closed. And the rest, as they say, is history.

“It’s always been about family,” Monahan said. “I realized the importance of surrounding myself with good people”—a sentiment that carried over to his selection of SEB’s coaching staff. With Monahan’s prowess in outfielding, hitting and base running, he sought to balance out the coaching abilities with four additional professionals, chosen for their skill and character. Scott Mullen, Chris Seelbach, Junior Delatorre, and Patrick Boulware round out SEB’s impressive staff. Each a seasoned expert in his own right, their selection was not random. “They are positive role models and of the highest moral caliber,” Monahan said. “I have to trust them with each of my kids, so it’s very important.”

Mullen is one of Monahan’s pitching pros. He was drafted in the seventh round of the 1996 MLB Draft by the Kansas City Royals, spending five seasons in their minor league system before making his MLB entrance in 2000. Mullen played college ball at The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina, and Dallas Baptist University.
Seelbach is a passionate baseball teacher and coach. He spent five years as an MLB player with the Atlanta Braves before being traded to the Florida Marlins.

Delatorre studied at the University of South Carolina Beaufort (USCB), ranking second all-time in starts (36), innings pitched (257.1), wins (17), strikeouts (200), complete games (6), and shutouts (3). He is presently varsity pitching coach at Hilton Head Preparatory School.

Boulware, an all-around athlete, played three sports throughout his career: wrestling, football and baseball. He received a scholarship to play baseball at Immaculata University in Malvern, Pennsylvania, where he was a five-year starter behind the plate, splitting roles as a closing pitcher. During his time at Immaculata, he was a two-time all-conference catcher.

Prior to moving to Bluffton, Monahan founded a similar academy. He was president of SEB Tigers out of Gainesville, Georgia, coaching their top 16-and-under team. In the fall of 2011, the Tigers started the season with four teams, and by the spring of the final year, there were 12. Monahan and company were able to place 450 kids into colleges. Over 35 players were drafted; 10 moved on to play in the Majors!

College placement and draft opportunities are integral to the academy’s initiative. A referral call made to a university’s coach, or to a Major/Minor league team from a trusted former player can make all the difference in the player’s future. Monahan will keep hitting it out of the park, working hard for his kids, and building what he hopes will eventually be the largest travel baseball organization south of Atlanta. The Lowcountry may soon discover a field where baseball dreams really do come true.

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