“Shea Ireland is a committed athlete – a first on, last off kind of kid who leads by consistent, quiet example,” began Champlain Valley Union (CVU) head baseball coach Tim Albertson. “Shea has a lot of pride in himself and in the team. You can see it in his work ethic.”
Born and raised in Shelburne, Ireland’s family includes mom and dad, Kim and Scott; older brother, Dylan, a 2013 CVU graduate; younger sister Sophie, a CVU freshman; and a golden retriever named Molly.
Ireland remembers playing organized baseball when he was around 6 years old. “My dad has always been a big baseball fan so he pushed my brother and me into playing baseball,” he remarked while crediting his father for his interest in the sport.
“As I started getting older I played Shelburne Little League from the spring all the way to the fall. Once I got older and started transitioning onto the ‘big’ field I started doing more work in the winter,” he explained. “This included hitting with my instructor, Jim Neidlinger, once a week and also spending some of my week at Bases Loaded, a softball and baseball training center.”
A skilled first baseman and catcher, Ireland’s preparation and dedication to the sport is paying off for CVU. In fact, the Redhawks are off to another strong season. After the loss of its season opener, the team is now at the top of the metro standings and on an 8-game winning streak.
A CVU varsity baseball player since his sophomore year, Ireland is now a senior captain. “As a captain I try to keep guys focused,” he remarked when asked about his strengths. “I have also been on the team for a couple years and won a state championship in 2013 so I can help other kids with my knowledge of winning on this level,” he shared. “Shea is such a hard worker. He is well respected by his teammates,” coach Albertson added to Ireland’s list of assets.
When asked about his proudest moment Ireland answered without hesitation, “My greatest achievement was probably in 2010 when my 11-12 Little League All Star team went to the regional tournament in Bristol, Conn. for the Little League World Series. We lost in the semifinal game but the experience is one I will never forget,” he noted. “My second greatest achievement was being a part of the 2013 D-I high school championship team. We played in the longest D-I championship game in Vermont history. It went 11 innings and lasted until midnight.”
In addition to playing baseball, Ireland is employed at SD Ireland, a construction company owned by his dad and uncle. “When I’m not at school or playing baseball, most of my time is spent working,” he explained. “I also try and help out with younger baseball teams. For example our CVU team runs a baseball camp for a week in June that gives younger kids the experience to play with us and learn new skills.”
What’s next for this CVU senior? “I plan to study business and management at Bryant University in Rhode Island,” Ireland offered. “Bryant is a very good business school and my father went there as well. I am still undecided on whether I will play baseball or not.” With plans in place for next year and for the foreseeable future, it appears that Ireland has already hit one out of the ballpark.