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Deen Award

On Deck Academy lost a dear supporter and friend with the passing of Mr. Carl Deen a few years ago.  Carl believed in the values and teaching style on which On Deck Academy was founded.  He was a powerful supporter of his son, Bryce, who was a member of the 2019 On Deck O’s,  and every player on the field.  Carl Deen was a loving husband, caring father, and wonderful friend.  He lived his life in a way that taught, through small yet powerful gestures, the importance of earning one’s way and respecting those who do.  Carl believed in the reward of success as a result of faith, hard work, commitment and perseverance.  Carl loved the game of baseball, but more importantly, he valued the mental, physical and emotional investment players must make to enjoy success.   We remain very appreciative of an anonymous donation that allows On Deck to honor Carl’s memory by selecting at least one player annually as the recipient of the Deen Award.  The Deen Award is presented to a player who perseveres over challenging odds and makes the necessary investment to achieve his goals in the game.

Below is a list of previous Deen Award recipients:

2022 Bryson Austin

2021 Delaney Powell

2021 Lamar Briggs
Lamar Briggs spent his high school years (2011-2014)playing at Davidson Day School and On Deck Academy.  At Davidson Day, he was an All-State and All-Conference player every year in baseball and football. Lamar was also a very important member of the 2014 On Deck O's who originally accepted a baseball scholarship to attend Temple University.  However, later that year, Temple University folded many of their sports programs, including baseball.  As a result, Lamar chose to commit to Jackson State University where he quickly made an impact at the DI level.  He played 4 years at Jackson State University 2014-2018. While at JSU, he collected three All-Conference awards, was named Black College Nines All-American, and voted best utility player by my coaches and teammates. 

Despite all of his success at the college level, Lamar was not drafted or signed as a free agent.  Even though he was disappointed, he refused to give up on his dream of playing professionally.   Between 2018 and 2020, he continued to train and attended a number of affiliated and independent tryouts looking to get picked up.  Midway through the 2020 professional baseball season, Lamar was offered and signed his first contract, two years after the completion of his college career .  The Westside Woolly Mammoths of the United Shores Professional League signed him and that decision paid off. Lamar spent a year and a half in the USPBL and recently won the batting title and was named league MVP (2021). Lamar Briggs continues to work at the game he loves and coming off his MVP season, signed a new contract with the Lake Country DockHounds in the American Association.

2020 Eli Shenise
In May of 2014, at the age of 12, Eli Shenise was diagnosed with Burkitt’s Lymphoma, a type of blood-born cancer. Eli spent the summer undergoing 4 rounds of chemotherapy, a few surgeries, and several minor procedures. Shortly after completion of his final round of chemotherapy, the doctors discovered he had developed a blood clot in his heart because of the treatment therapy. Eli then spent the fall and part of the winter in a 6-month treatment protocol to dissolve most of the blood clots. Needless to say, all these events caused him to miss the summer and fall seasons of travel baseball. Throughout his treatments, Eli never lost his love for the game of baseball and was determined to fight his way back onto the field once he was cleared to fully participate. After a check-up with his doctors on a Friday morning in February, they agreed to clear him to return to baseball in full, just in time for middle school tryouts on the following Monday. His drive and perseverance paid off as he made the Community House Middle School baseball team as a 7thgrader. His hard work and determination have continued to pay off as he made the team as an 8th grader and all 4 years at South Mecklenburg High School. Eli is currently a baseball student-athlete at Erskine College where he is studying Biology.

2019 John Demas

John Demas was a talented standout in both baseball and football during his amatuer sports career.  Unfortunately, he was sidelined several times during his middle school and high school years due to injuries.  In 2012, John underwent ulnar nerve transposition on his throwing arm.  In 2013, he had to have a procedure to remove scar tissue.  Then, in 2015, a procedure was required to remove bone chips and microfracture to encourage the development of fibrocartilage.  After a difficult recovery, John made the varsity baseball team at Charlotte Country Day as a freshman , but had to have another surgery and was unable to play.  Despite all of these setbacks, John  played baseball sophomore through senior year (2016-2019) as a primary catcher and first baseman.  He was also named Captain of the State Champion football team and nominated as Charlotte Linebacker of the Year his senior year.

2018 Thomas Umphlett

During his sophomore year at South Mecklenburg High School, Thomas experienced discomfort in his right shoulder.  He attempted to play through it as best he could and in hopes it was not anything too serious.  However, early in the summer season, while playing for the 2019 On Deck O's, an MRI discovered a SLAP tear in his labrum. In July of 2017, he underwent surgery and months of rehab at Architech Sports. Through a lot of hard work and determination, Thomas returned as a position player for both his junior and senior year and did not miss a season for the Sabres or On Deck O’s. He was named a SOMECK Conference Tournament MVP during his junior year and was a vital member of a highly successful 2019 On Deck O's team during the summer and fall.  Thomas signed with Francis Marion University.   

2017 Carson Jones

In the fall of 2016, while playing for the 2019 O’s, Carson began to feel some discomfort in his lower back.  Thinking it was just sore, he continued to play and finished out the fall season.  After taking some time off he began to prepare for his sophomore season at Fort Mill High School.  During this time, the pain returned and made it hard for him to run and perform normal baseball activities.  After an MRI, it was determined that Carson had sustained an overuse injury known as a Pars Defect.  Due to this injury, Carson’s sophomore season ended before it started.  After some extensive time off and a lot of rest, he followed the recommendation to see a chiropractor and Carson was able to return in time for the 2017 Summer and Fall Season at On Deck (Thank you, Dr. Kuchmaner).   Carson still sees Dr. Kuchmaner on an "as needed" basis and feels he has really helped him stay healthy.  Carson has now graduated the O's program and signed to continue his education and playing career at Francis Marion University.   

2016 Matthew Helms

After experiencing some discomfort in his throwing arm, Matthew Helms went to the doctor in September 2015 and discovered he needed Tommy John Surgery.

On September 30, 2015 he had the infamous surgery to repair /reconstruct the UCL and remove a bone chip.  Matthew’s surgery was performed by Dr. James E. Fleischli at OrthoCarolina.  The procedure and recovery process would require him to miss the 2015 Fall Season with On Deck and the 2016 Spring Season with Marvin Ridge High School. 

Matthew began an intense physical therapy regiment with Alan Tyson at Architech Sports in October 2015 to present.  In February 2016, he started his throwing program and was able to return to competition with the O’s in June 2016, but was not yet allowed to get on the mound.  He stepped back on the mound in a live game for the first time in September 2016 and threw 25 pitches.  He finished the fall season as the shutdown arm on the 2018 O’s pitching staff and was up to a pitch count of 65 and featured a fastball that was sitting in the mid 80’s and climbing!  Thanks to a phenomenal team of doctors, physical therapists, and a lot of hard work, Matthew’s future on the field is once again very bright. 

2015 Kyle Cliff
Kyle Cliff was a member of the  2013 On Deck O’s and graduated from Central Cabarrus High School in  2013.  He signed with Limestone College, out of high school, but decided to transfer to a junior college in order to make an attempt to achieve his goal of playing DI baseball.
While pitching in the Fall of 2014 for Roane State Community College (TN), he realized he could not grip the baseball and his hand was cramping and turned blue. 

Immediately, Kyle went to see a doctor in TN to see what was going on and the medical staff quickly became concerned when they could not record a blood pressure in his left arm (throwing arm). They were finally able to record it and it was over 80 points different than his right arm.  An ultra sound revealed a blood clot in Kyle’s axillary artery and he was immediately placed on bed rest. 

Kyle was immediately admitted and spend 4 days in the hospital and went through 3 angioplasty procedures to get the clot removed. 
He came to Charlotte and made an appointment with the Sanger Clinic. The medical staff determined his hand was in really bad shape and needed immediate attention.  He was admitted and had a catheter inserted that was used to open up and increase the blood flow to the hand. He spent 3 days in intensive care due to the risk of bleeding out because of the high dosages of blood thinner he was on. 

During the procedure it was determined that Kyle needed bypass surgery of the axillary artery in order to not only pitch again, but to just function. 

On November 24, 2014 he had axillary bypass surgery which took a vein from his leg to be used in his chest. 

The doctor cleared Kyle to pitch again, but since he had not completed this surgery on anyone under 65 years of age, did not know what kind of rehab to put me on, so he created one with the assistance of all of his former baseball coaches. 

Kyle was not enrolled in school for spring 2015, because he was working himself back from the surgery. He spent that time getting back into shape, and was able to gain the attention of Elgin Community College in Elgin, IL. They offered him a scholarship, so he enrolled there in fall of 2015.

He started the season throwing pretty well and had a great fall campaign. UNCG saw him in September and began the recruiting process. 
On November 24, 2015, exactly one year removed from bypass surgery he was sitting in the offices of the UNCG baseball staff where Head Coach Link Jarrett told Kyle he wanted him to play for UNCG and offered him a spot. The journey and dream continue…!

2014 Charles Kennedy

Charles Kennedy was a member of our 10U On Deck team a few years ago, and he had to over come some unimaginable physical and emotional challenges to get back on the field. Charles continues to be an inspiration to us all.  For those of you who do not know his story, Charles woke up at 6 o'clock in the morning on August 9, 2014 and couldn't move his left side. He was taken by ambulance to Levine Emergency Room where they found that he had and a VM which is an arteriovenous malformation. They performed an emergency surgery that day and another one on August 27, 2014. He spent three weeks in the ICU with a title two-month hospitalization at Levine. 

Doctors were unsure of Charles prognosis from day one. They weren't even sure he would live through the first few days of his hospitalization. He walked and played with a brace for a while, but he was determined to get back on the baseball field, and he did! 

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