Jelby Cheramie has lived his entire life on the go.
From school to practice to the batting cage and then back home — sometimes not getting back until 10-11 p.m.
From a game in one sport to a game in the next sport — and sometimes then back to the first sport again after for a little extra work, all in the same day. It’s been par for the course.
Cheramie admits it’s been a grind and it’s taken a lot of inner motivation and determination to keep pushing.
But last Wednesday, it all paid off.
Cheramie inked a collegiate scholarship to Eureka College in Illinois — a four-year school which will afford him the opportunity to extend his playing career, while getting a quality education.
Cheramie said he’s worked his entire life to be a collegiate baseball player, adding that putting his name on a signed Letter of Intent was one of the best feelings of his entire life.
“For me, it meant that all of that hard work and that grind, it was all worth it,” Cheramie said. “My entire life, since I started playing baseball as a small kid, I set a goal for myself and it was to play at the college level. So to have that chance, it’s just rewarding and is such a great feeling.”
Cheramie earned his place at the next level.
He was a four-year starter at South Lafourche High School, playing shortstop, second base and also serving as a starting pitcher for the program, which has made the State Playoffs for three-straight seasons — the only time in school history that that’s ever happened.
At his signing, coaches lauded the young man’s work ethic and willingness to compete and be both a good player and teammate.
South Lafourche coaches Andrew Ravaglia and Chandler Guidroz called Cheramie a “consummate senior leader”.
Guidroz spoke at the ceremony and thanked Cheramie for his contributions to the team in 2019 — a year where the Tarpons lost a giant senior class, overcame expectations and still hosted a home playoff game.
Ravaglia said Cheramie served as the fabric of the program, which allowed that to happen.
“Winning programs need young men like Jelby,” Ravaglia said. “I couldn’t be prouder of him and I couldn’t be happier for his family. He is so deserving
CCA coach Joe Teuton, Cheramie’s summer coach with the Southland Hogs, offered a different perspective.
Teuton said he’s coached Cheramie, but also faced him as an opposing coach. He said at the next level, he will give mental toughness to Eureka — a factor that goes beyond athleticism and talent on the field.
“He makes you think as a coach, because he’s a smart player and a fierce competitor,” Teuton said. “So, as a coach, you’re making sure that you have every, single last detail accounted for, because if not, Jelby’s going to find the loose end and take advantage of it. He’s a testament to his hard work and his coaching. He’s a testament to the job Coach (Ravaglia) has done here to turn a program that wasn’t known for being so successful into what is now an annual power in Class 4A high school baseball.”
Cheramie said he picked Eureka after fielding interest from several programs around the Southeast and beyond.
He joked and said he doesn’t like cold weather, which makes the Illinois-based school an odd fit. But he loved the warm, family-like atmosphere at the school.
Father Jimmy Cheramie and mother Shada said those things went a long way in securing Jelby’s decision to commit to the program. The family visited the campus during Easter Break, which prompted a commitment, then his signing.
“He loved it there,” Shada said. “He went on his visit and when he saw the love they had, they won him over. They made Jelby feel really special.”
Cheramie said he’s not exactly sure what position he will play at Eureka, but he’s been told that there may be an opening at third base next season.
“You know me. I’ll play wherever they tell me to play — no matter where it is,” Jelby Cheramie said with a laugh. “I’ve not played much third base before, but if that’s where they need me most, that’s where I’ll be. If it’s somewhere else, that’s where I’ll be, as well.”
Jimmy said the family liked Eureka’s coaching staff, adding that the small, tight-knit community school is turning around its baseball program after years of struggles.
The father said to see his son sign at the next level is a proud day — one of the best days a father can have.
After all those long drives home after practices or ballgames, the dream finally came true — an awesome moment for both father and son.
“Some dads, they have to push their kids into sports to keep them going,” Jimmy said. “But that’s not how Jelby is. We never had to push him. For us, it’s the opposite. He’s the one who always pushed us and kept us going. We’re just so proud of him. We’re so happy to see all his work that he put in pay off for him.” •