TAMPA — Donald “Bubby” Terp was just a freshman when outfielder Sinjin Sato became King’s first recipient of the Wade Boggs Athletic Achievement Award, given to a Hillsborough County baseball player every year since 2005.
But Terp took note, not knowing that three years later, he’d be standing in his former teammate’s shoes.
“I remember seeing Sinjin every day. He’d come in, he’d work hard, he’d laugh, have fun,” Terp said. “Just seeing him do that, seeing him go through international baccalaureate every day, it really showed me, you’ve got to stay on it. Do what it takes.”
Terp, an infielder for the Lions, was recognized as the 2014 recipient of the award at the Hillsborough County Board of Commissioners meeting Tuesday. Boggs was present to say a few words about the award named in his honor.
Plant coach Dennis Braun and Strawberry Crest coach Eric Beattie were also in attendance, representing shortstop and right-hander Stephen Chamblee and second baseman Matthew Collado, runners-up for the award.
Boggs, a Plant graduate, is a 12-time MLB all-star and Hall of Famer who spent 18 years in the major leagues playing for the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Devil Rays. He now lives in Hillsborough County and has served as an assistant baseball coach at Wharton for 14 years.
“The gentlemen are lumps of coal, and they turn into diamonds. These are Hillsborough County’s future,” Boggs said of the honorees after the meeting. “An athlete can do his job on the field, but it’s what he does off the field.”
And that’s where Terp has made quite an impact.
The senior, who has signed to play baseball at Emory, is an IB student at King with a 6.4 grade-point average. He feeds the homeless at Metropolitan Ministries, has captained a Relay for Life team and teaches baseball at youth summer camps.
Terp had a team-leading .452 batting average and five home runs while leading the Lions to a region final.
But despite his successes on and off the baseball field, coach Jim Macaluso knows first-hand the trials Terp had to overcome to get there.
Terp missed much of his freshman and sophomore seasons due to injuries, many of which were caused by the strain his body’s growth had on his muscles and bones, Macaluso said.
“It wasn’t a hangnail or something. He had some major issues,” Macaluso said. “But he stayed. If he missed three or four days, as soon as the doctor said he could go, he’d be right back out there.”
Like a proud father, Macaluso stood before the county commissioners alongside Terp and his family, regaling the board with tales of Terp’s time at King. Just like Sato’s had been for Terp three years ago, Macaluso said he hopes Terp’s legacy will make an impact on younger Lions — just like it has on the long-time coach.
“People ask me the question,” Macaluso said, “ ‘Why do you stay in coaching for 39 years?’ You stay in coaching for people like Bubby Terp.”