Payton Kinney started his
collegiate baseball career pitching for the Southeast Community College Storm
and spent three years at the Beatrice Campus before a shoulder injury forced
him out for a season.
Now the Norris High School
graduate will be on the other side of the game. In July he was named the new
pitching coach at the University of Nebraska Omaha.
While at SCC, his best
memories were not the wins or the strikeouts, but the friendships he made along
“It wasn’t necessarily the
great games, but the teammates who you go through everything with,” he said.
“That’s what I remember.”
Kinney remembers the wins,
too, and there were many when he was with the Storm from 2014-2016.
“I remember winning a lot; it
seemed like all we did was win,” he recalled. “We struggled at the beginning,
but we had a 22-game win streak at one time.”
Even though most players
dream of playing collegiate baseball at the highest level, Kinney can’t talk
enough about the great experiences he had playing junior college ball.
“At first I wasn’t sure what
to expect, but it was a very high level of ball,” he said. “Everyone there was
so good. It’s a great place to get better so you can reach the highest level.”
Kinney credits the coaching
staff for its tough workouts and pushing players to be their best. He said Storm
Head Coach Dion Parks and his assistants do a good job of recruiting and
getting the best possible players.
“They work extremely hard at
recruiting,” he said. “As long as they’re at SCC, they will be a tough
opponent. I would be surprised if they didn’t have a great year next year.”
Parks said Kinney always
worked hard on and off the field, and always looks for ways to improve his
game. He finished his SCC career with a 12-6 record and 114 strikeouts.
“Payton was always the most
competitive kid on the field,” Parks said. “What really caught our attention
was the passion he played with. He spent countless hours working on his arm
strength to gain velocity, which helped him earn a Division I scholarship.”
College coaches from around
the region frequently attend Storm games to watch potential recruits. Kinney
earned a scholarship to play at UNO in 2016. He played for the Mavericks for
another three years but was once again sidelined for a season because of an
elbow injury. He finished his senior year with a 1.96 Earned Run Average, an 11-2
record and 111 strikeouts.
He is excited about the
“Right now I want to be the
best coach I can try to be; it’s still so exciting and so unknown,” he said.
“I’m going to give it everything I’ve got, and I think it’ll be a lot of fun.”
“I think the mentality he has
and the work ethic he displayed over his career will translate really well on
the coaching side,” Parks added. “I am excited to see how he does. We are
very proud of Payton and wish him the best at Omaha.”
Kinney will never forget his
years playing at SCC and hopes to encourage other young players to follow their
hearts with baseball. But only if they love it.
“Work your butt off and have
fun doing it,” he said. “If it feels like a job, do something else. I can’t
overemphasize how important it is to enjoy it. You’ll have a fun career, and
it’ll be the best time of your life.”
Kinney earned an Associate of
Arts degree in Academic Transfer from SCC and a bachelor’s degree in Multidisciplinary
Studies from UNO.