Teams are always searching for something to grab onto and rally around, the Watertown baseball team has found theirs in “Donna the Rock.”
The story begins when assistant coach Jeremy Plourde tripped over it while walking in a Waterbury dugout last season
“While we were waiting for (Wilby) to finish IO (infield/outfield practice), we were digging it out,” Watertown senior Robert Johnston said. “We got it and we brought it home, but we didn’t really know what to do with it.
“We started to bring it to all of the games and ever since then we kind of just rolled with it.”
The Indians won 24-0 that day, then 4-2 over Woodland and later in the week they won 12-2 over Torrington.
It was after that win over Torrington a new tradition was born in Watertown: Awarding the rock – which the team named “Donna” after a nice bus driver – to the best or most important player from each victory.
The first recipient was then senior Justin Guerrera, who hit for the cycle and had six RBIs in the win vs. Torrington. After being awarded the rock, Guerrera took a picture with it and the team posted it on their Twitter account @WaterTownHSBase.
“Once you get the rock, you always hit the retweet button to let everyone know you won the rock,” Watertown senior catcher Andrew Teardo said.
— WatertownHS Baseball (@WatertownHSBase) April 10, 2019
It’s not always the best player from that game that is awarded the rock.
Someone like Teardo was awarded to rock after putting his body on the line behind the plate, causing him to leave the game.
“The feeling of taking that picture, was just a great feeling,” he said. “You love just getting your picture taken right after a game when you’re sweaty and feeling good about yourself after the game.”
There are a couple of rules that go with the rock, too. It can be awarded to multiple players from one game, it is only awarded after a win and no one takes it home anymore. A player left it at the field last year.
This season Dan Shelton is the one who takes care of the rock every night.
“He brings it home every night and washes her,” Johnston said.
This is Shelton’s first season with the varsity. He played his freshman year but decided not to play the previous two.
— WatertownHS Baseball (@WatertownHSBase) April 2, 2019
Being the new guy on the team wasn’t easy. He didn’t know the guys and said that he didn’t really have much to talk with them about since he wasn’t a member the previous years.
That changed once he won the rock in the Indians’ second game of the season.
“I was thrown in against Kennedy and I got through three scoreless innings and we came back and won that game,” he said. “The rock wasn’t even at the forefront of my mind at that point. I was just happy we got the win. After the game, when the captains told me I got the rock, it was a great feeling.
“It’s really cool because the whole team is clapping it up and not only that but we got a win too.”
The rock is also used as a rallying object.
When Watertown scores, a player will hold the rock up outside the dugout. The runners who score will touch the rock while the batter will point towards it.
“We take it all lighthearted, it’s not too serious because we know we have the skills to win,” Shelton said.
Since the team found the rock it is 16-7 overall, 2-1 in state tournament play and 11-1 at home. The Indians are 9-4 so far in 2018.
“We’re making moves this year so maybe if it works out, other teams will try to copy us and see if they can get the same luck,” Shelton said. “Donna is pretty special so I don’t know if it can be duplicated.”