Through the ups and downs of an often unpredictable sport, Ben Hoctor has been a constant for the Reedy High School baseball team. During the last two seasons, the team manager and one-man film crew has captured each game of Reedy’s journey from new varsity program to back-to-back playoff qualifier.
But the Reedy senior has done more than film it. He’s been part of it – and one reason for the quick ascent of the Lions, who on Thursday will open a best-of-3 bidistrict playoff series against Lake Dallas.
“Ben is such an inspiration and leader on our baseball team,” Reedy coach Chris Cox said. “Ben is not just an amazing manager and videographer. He is an outstanding human being.”
Hoctor is also an example of how Frisco ISD sports teams offer opportunities for students beyond the playing field. Hoctor was part of the Reedy tennis program as a sophomore, but when he didn’t make the team as a junior, Cox suggested he consider being the baseball team manager.
It turned out to be a perfect fit for Hoctor, who had played baseball until sixth grade and has always been a big fan of the sport. He’s the official Youth Ambassador for Keeper of the Game, a foundation that provides unique baseball experiences for kids and young adults with disabilities and special needs. His father, Bryan Hoctor, is executive director of Keeper of the Game, which was founded in 2014 by James Vilade, who was then a coach with the Frisco RoughRiders and is now an assistant coach at Oklahoma State University. Ben’s mother, Mary, and his younger brother, Harrison, also have significant roles with Keeper of the Game.
In addition to filming, Hoctor helps out at practices. He’ll feed baseballs to coaches during drills, gather equipment and assist wherever needed. Hoctor especially likes the team road trips, when he gets a chance to see other ballparks and has more time to hang out with the players, but he said the whole experience as manager is a blast.
“I tell people, ‘If you don’t make the team, you should definitely manage,’” Hoctor said. “You get to be around friends and meet so many nice people.”
Hoctor is part of the special-education program at Reedy, which he began attending when the school opened after his freshman year at Wakeland. (His brother Harrison is a sophomore at Wakeland). Hoctor will graduate this spring, plans to take classes at Collin College in the fall, and has talked with Cox about filming Reedy baseball games next year.
“High school baseball is so different than any other level of baseball,” Hoctor said. “I’ve liked it so much with the guys that I’m coming back next year.”
Cox said he’d love to have Hoctor help out again next year. His filming is valuable for the players because it allows them to analyze their performances and see areas for improvement, and Hoctor’s baseball knowledge allows him to anticipate the game’s action and get quality video.
The video is one advantage Hoctor gives Reedy, but the Lions also benefit from the simple presence of the friendly, enthusiastic team manager. Those “intangibles,” which are often talked about in relation to sports teams, can be difficult to describe. But Reedy senior second baseman Beau Williams describes it well when talking about Hoctor, who is always upbeat and quick with an encouraging word for his fellow Lions.
“He just kind of brings life to the team,” Williams said. “Sometimes you have these long practices when you’re just kind of grinding, and he’s that guy who lifts you up. It’s really pretty special what he brings to the team.”