Brock Ward Perseverance Awards

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Every year, the University of West Alabama’s baseball team hosts its Grand Slam Dinner to recognize the team’s accomplishments. At the annual banquet in Jan. 2017, something was a little different. A new award was sitting on the podium beside the usual Most Valuable Player and Highest Batting Average awards. Embossed in the plaque were the words “Brock Ward Perseverance Award.” In honor of cancer survivor and former player, Brock Ward, UWA’s head baseball coach, Gary Rundles, created the Brock Ward Preservice Award. Ward was diagnosed with Ewing carcinoma, a rare type of childhood bone cancer, only four days after graduating from UWA in 2015. After undergoing chemotherapy treatments for several months, Ward was informed he was cancer-free on February 19, 2016.

“Personally, Brock has been an inspiration to me because of his willingness to never give up. He had his life put on hold and his baseball career ended by this dreaded cancer. When faced with this adversity Brock never let his faith in God falter. He has always been positive even through the painful surgeries and regimen of chemo treatments,” said Rundles. Looking for players who had overcome adversity in their lives, the coaching staff chose Jack Cockrum and Brandon Pennington as recipients.
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One hour later, he was in the batting lineup as a designated hitter and caught the last inning of the game for the closing pitcher. He went on to play the remaining games in the tournament before going to the hospital. He then returned to play in the regional tournaments just a few days after surgery. Cockrum’s dedication to the game and perseverance to push through not only that injury, but several others, were the basis of the coaching staff choosing