Redbird Baseball’s Steve Holm Celebrates Leaders with Scholarships
Written by Ben Hudy on October 18, 2022
Image courtesy of Illinois State Athletics
NORMAL, Ill. – Illinois State Redbirds baseball’s Head Coach, Steve Holm, recently awarded four Redbird baseball players endowed scholarships heading into the 2023 campaign. The winners of this years scholarships were Luke Cheng, Greg Nichols, Cameron Mabee and Jordan Lussier.
The scholarships are donated by different families and named after different people who have made an impact on Illinois State University.
“These four guys are everything you look for as a coach when it comes to giving a player a scholarship,” said Holm. “When you are giving out scholarships that are named after different people, you want those guys to be the right type of people and these guys are the right type of kids.” Holm spoke very highly of the four recipients mentioning their strong work ethic in the classroom as well as on the baseball field.
Junior pitcher Jordan Lussier received the Duffy Bass Endowed Scholarship. This scholarship was named in honor of the former ISU baseball coach who guided the Redbirds to a College Division National Championship in 1969. It is awarded each year to a junior or senior who most exhibits the legacy of Bass.
“He’s a great kid,” Holm stated on Lussier. “He works his butt off on and off the field.”
Lussier is currently working through rehabbing injuries that occurred during the 2022 campaign. When Lussier is on the field, he has proven to the Redbird coaching staff that he is a reliable starter. Back in 2021, he earned Honorable Mention All-Missouri Valley Conference Honors.
The other Redbird pitcher to receive an endowed scholarship was junior Cameron Mabee. Mabee received the Raymond W. Fairchild Endowed Scholarship, which is given to a player who excels in the classroom and on the field. The scholarship is named after former ISU president Raymond W. Fairchild.
“This season Cameron has a chance to impact us in a big way,” said Holm. “His demeanor is very calm and you can throw him in any kind of situation.”
Mabee has an interesting story of how he got to ISU. He went to a division two baseball school in California, and when his teams season got canceled in 2021, the Redbird coaching staff recruited him to come to ISU.
Mabee has pitched two seasons for the Redbirds but saw an increased workload in 2022. Mabee had 17 appearances out of the bullpen in 2022, holding opponents to a .212 batting average and boasting a 22:7 strikeout ratio.
Junior infielder, Luke Cheng, received the Schuster Family Endowed Scholarship. The scholarship is named in honor of four-year baseball letter winner Andrew Schuster and is awarded to a junior or senior on the ISU baseball team.
Luke Cheng will be the Redbirds starting shortstop this upcoming season, after a breakout season where he hit .289 and received All-MVC Defensive team honors. Holm spoke very highly of the type of leader Cheng is for his team this year as well as his strong performance in the classroom.
“I think Cheng is probably the best middle infielder in the conference,” said Holm. “He tends to be a leader by example but is also a vocal guy who is not afraid to get on someone if need be.”
The final award winner for the ISU baseball team was junior infielder Greg Nichols. Nichols won the Stephen Heaton Endowed Scholarship which is named in honor of the late Steve Heaton. This scholarship is funded by a private donor who is trying to make an impact on Illinois State student-athletes.
Nichols started at second base last season for the Redbirds hitting .241 with nine extra-base hits. Defensively, Nichols took home All-Defensive Team honors after making only three errors in 117 chances.
“Nichols is a lead-by-example type of guy,” said Holm. “He does nothing but help the program as well as set such a good example.” Holm also discussed how Nichols excels in the classroom as well as being the type of guy you want on campus.
Each player that was awarded with scholarships seems like the type of person anyone would want in their baseball program. Holm speaks very highly of each individual and seems very honored to provide each of these players with endowed scholarships.
The Redbirds baseball season will kick off in late February 2023.