Playing in a World Series can give even a veteran baseball player the jitters.
That wasn't the case for former Eagle Mike Danner.
Fortunately, the former Polk State College outfielder took what he had learned from playing in the NJCAA World Series with Polk in 2012 into the NCAA Division II World Series with the University of Tampa.
A relaxed Danner hit and fielded well as the Spartans captured the championship trophy recently in North Carolina.
"The greatest feeling is winning it all," said Danner, 21, now a junior with the Spartans. "You just feel like everything's been accomplished."
Danner played a significant role in the Spartans' run to the Sunshine State Conference title and World Series tournament victory.
He led the team in hits (73), triples (4) and RBI (53). He was second in doubles (14) and home runs (6).
"I felt like I had a great season playing here," he said. "It helps me out being in a such a good lineup. You don't have to carry the load. You can play as you are taught, and I always had people backing me up."
Danner also mentioned the team's unique chemistry, which gelled quickly and made the season memorable.
"His personality was a big factor in our team chemistry, and I believe this is why this team was special," said University of Tampa coach Joe Urso. "He was a big factor in setting the tone for our offense. Mike did an outstanding job both at the plate and defensively this year. He batted second most of the year and was very selective. He drove the baseball to all fields and was a great base runner."
Danner has been playing baseball since he was 4 years old.
He still hasn't grasped the magnitude of achieving his baseball dream.
"This hasn't even sunk in yet," Danner said the day after the team returned to a loud, welcoming crowd in Tampa. "I'm still in shock that I've been part of two World Series. You realize it after a few weeks. It's great to have this opportunity."
The Spartans got the full champion treatment.
As they flew home, the pilot announced the Spartans' World Series title to the rest of the passengers.
Upon landing in Tampa, the airport fire crew put two fire trucks on the tarmac and saluted the team with an arc of water.
"It was sweet," Danner said, a sports management major. "The pilot said he's only seen it done three times in eight years."
Danner made several contributions to the team's success in Cary, N.C., including a home run and six RBI in five games.
He credited his trip with Polk to the NJCAA World Series as one of the reasons he was comfortable in an exciting and nervous setting.
"I think Polk really showed me what to do with the routine and how to calm down and just work on that and not try to be over-anxious," he said. "I think Polk really helped me out."
He also called Polk State College coaches Al Corbeil and Collin Martin a few times during the season to talk baseball and get some tips.
The talks and experience paid off.
Danner's opening-game statistics looked like that of a veteran as he belted three hits, including a home run in Tampa's first World Series game.
The Spartans won it all with an 8-2 title victory over Minnesota State-Mankato.
Danner, who was named an NCAA Division II Third Team All-American, contributed a hit in the championship game in front of a near-record crowd.
The Spartans jumped up and down and piled on each other following the last out.
The victory was capped by a post-game fireworks display.
"It was just a great atmosphere," Danner said.