Bo Elliott holds similarities to a certain high-ranking professional golfer, at least in his eyes.
“I’m always striving to get better, like Tiger Woods,” Elliott said. “He’s changing everything. You’ve got to evolve to be good and I think I’m trying to change for the best.”
Tellico Plains’ star baseball player has been doing just that following the cancellation of his junior season due to the COVID-19 crisis.
Along with practicing with his travel team, the East Tennessee Fuel, Elliott has been working out and conditioning to stay in shape for whenever he gets back on the diamond. He’s used whatever means possible to accomplish his tasks.
“I’ve been hitting off a tee and hitting a little bit in my barn and stuff,” Elliott said. “We’ve got a place to hit up at my papaw’s farm. That’s what I’ve been doing to stay in shape and just be ready for the travel season and next high school season.”
It’s been a lonely process, though. He’s worked amid the disappointment of a season lost, a situation that has affected student-athletes across the country.
“I haven’t really talked to any of my teammates at all,” Elliott said. “I’ve kind of just kept to myself about it. But I’m cousins with (teammate) Ben Edwards and we’ve talked about it just a little bit, just me and him.
“We’re pretty disappointed about it because this year would have definitely been the year for Tellico. We’re going to be good next year and there’s no doubt about it, but we were loaded with pitching. We had everything this year and I think this year would have been that year that we’d make a run for state champions and everything.”
The Bears were heading into their second season with head coach Heath Ware, who, in his first year, guided Tellico to a District 4-A runners-up finish despite having no seniors on the roster. The optimism and expectations were there for the program to improve heavily in Year Two.
And Elliott likely would have contributed in a big way. Tellico’s defensive leader at catcher, he also boasts a dangerously strong bat, able to knock balls over the fence at any time.
Elliott was named to the 2019 All-County Team after a standout sophomore campaign.
“Last year was really a breakout year for me, in my opinion,” Elliott said. “My freshman year, I didn’t really start off strong, and towards the middle of the season I kind of broke out of a slump and I turned a corner. But last year, I just started out strong and I think I had a monster year.
“This year, I started out strong and I just felt better since we had been in the weight room and stuff. I figured this year would have been the best year of them all.”
Despite the disappointment of losing his junior season, Elliott is confident in himself and his team heading into his final year with the Bears.
“We’ve definitely got the potential with the lowerclassmen,” Elliott said. “With the seniors graduating, there’s going to be some positions opening up and there’s going to be some opportunities to grab a job and play to the best ability.
“I think that there’s definitely going to be some players that’s younger that will have that opportunity to start. I think that they’ll mature as they get older and we’ll definitely have a good season next year.”
And there’s even some recruiting noise in regard to Elliott’s baseball future.
He said he’s been contacted by “a few” schools that have invited him for campus visits. One college has been particularly active in recruiting Elliott, though he didn’t elaborate on which school that is.
“It is something I’ve been interested in,” Elliott said. “That’s one reason I’m playing travel ball is to get more exposure because we’re playing in some pretty big tournaments and stuff for travel ball.”
But just like Tiger Woods, his mind is more on improving himself and his game than anything else. The Bears will be counting on him when his senior season rolls around.
“I think I’m going to be able to improve defensively, offensively, because there’s always room to get better … My senior year, I’m really going to just try to shoot for MVP of (the) district and everything,” Elliott said. “Try to make an All-State and everything.
“The team’s going to try to win district like they do every year and I think we’re going to have a pretty good shot at it.”