Gaétan Alibert of Paris UC interviewed their new guy on the roster, Sean O’Hara, to introduce him to their fans. PUC was so kind to lend us the English version of the Q&A.
Paris UC: Sean, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background, both in sports and personally?
Sean O’Hara: I hail from Gloucester, Massachusetts- a medium sized fishing town on the North Shore of the state- about 45 minutes northeast of Boston. I am the youngest of three- having 2 sisters who are 26 and 28 that live in San Francisco, CA and Little Rock, Arkansas respectively. My parents still live in the house that I grew up in which is located in a small village called Magnolia. The year in Magnolia consists of beautiful summers where we spent most of our time at the beach/in the water and winters which are miserable from the cold/rain/snow. The spring and fall are a mixture of both.
As for athletically, i played baseball/basketball/soccer from when I was very young. When I moved on to high school, I continued to pursue both basketball and baseball. After a successful career in high school I was recruited to play baseball at several schools in the Northeast and as you know, I chose Harvard. I figured it provided the best of both worldsin regards to athletics and academics. Also, I had difficulty turning down the opportunity to go to one of the best schools in the world.
Lastly, after visiting the school and spending a weekend with the team(one of which was PUC Head Coach-Jeff Stoekel) and having a great time it was obvious that Harvard was the place for me.
Paris UC: How were you recruited? What was it that prompted you to come to France and join PUC?
Sean O’Hara: As you already know, I played baseball at Harvard with Jeff during my freshman and his senior year. Through Facebook I saw that Jeff had taken the job coaching here in Paris and it immediately sparked my interest. It was always an interest of mine to travel a bit after school and playing here gave me a great opportunity to both see the world and continue to play baseball. Once again, the best of two worlds. Seems like we have quite the trend here. But anyway, i contacted Jeff in the middle of the Spring and he told me to get back to him as the year came to end. Luckily my graduation was on May27th enabling me to get here before June 1st the playoff eligibility deadline. The rest is history.
Paris UC: What’s your perception of baseball in Europe and, in particular baseball in France? Is it what you imagined?
Sean O’Hara: In all honestly, I knew that the baseball here was going to be nothing compared to what it is the States. After all, baseball is our National Past-time. Coming in didn’t really have any expectations because I was simply happy to be given the opportunity to come over to Paris and do my best to help the team out.
As for French baseball, I find it promising that there are so many people putting in the effort to help the sport grow. I notice this especially among the younger teams where both the parents and Federation appear to be trying so hard. From my observation, baseball simply hasn’t been here long enough for the French to understand all its nuances- but with time this will change. Baseball is a very complicated game when it is played the correct way and without decades of experiences playing it is difficult to understand everything.
Paris UC: In your first game last two Sunday, when you faced the Templiers of Senart and after the Huskies of Rouen (actually champions), two of the teams favored for the championship, you really distinguished yourself with your hitting. Even though you are still a new guy here, what are your impressions of the level of play in France?
Sean O’Hara: Unfortunately, right now, our team is suffering from a myriad of injuries and constraints which has reduced our roster to a difficult number. As a result, it is very difficult for our team to compete with the top 4 teams- such as Senart and Rouen. As far as I can see, there appears to be two distinct levels of play in the Elite league- the top 4 and the bottom 4. The top 4 teams would be competitive in some college leagues back home, whereas the bottom 4 would have no chance at all. Hopefully within a few years- under the command of Jeff- PUC can get us back in the top 4.
Paris UC: The biggest different between ball in the states and the ball here is the pitching. Do you have a favorite team or player that you respect, that you look to for inspiration and who represents the kind of baseball you admire?
Sean O’Hara: If I had to pick one player I would choose Dustin Pedroia from the Boston Red Sox. However, it should be noted that i am a Red Sox fan and as a result this is quite a biased assessment. Pedroia is undoubtedly inspirational and admirable because of the way that he goes about playing the game. He plays in a very aggressive manner, yet he respects the way that the game is supposed to be played. At all times, he is playing at 100 percent and this is extremely difficult to do when you play 160+ games in less than 200 days. I really wish the French players could spend a day with him to see how he goes about business- I think they would be shocked to observe such dedication and diligence.
Paris UC: What was it exactly that drew you to baseball and made you want to play it?
Sean O’Hara: When I was young, I played baseball because that is what everyone did in the summer. I just happened to be a good athlete which allowed for me to excel in the sport. As with anyone, it is fun to do things that you are good at–so i continued as time went forward. Eventually it provided me the opportunity to go to Harvard so despite the long hours of endless groundballs and BP swings I can’t complain. And look at me now, I get to play baseball in France! I am a lucky kid that’s for damn sure.
Paris UC: Thanks again, Sean, for answering these questions. We look forward to seeing you soon on the field.