Growing up as a top high school athlete, Don “Sebo” Sebastian constantly and aggressively pushed himself to win, and doing so required much effort to keep himself in top physical condition.
“There are times when you want to give up or slack off, but in order to excel or to compete, you have to push your body to the limits to be ready to participate or to compete, and if you don’t put forth the effort, you’re not going to be able to succeed with those that do,” Sebastian said.
Admittedly, he often pushed himself too hard and too far to meet his personal goals, and sometimes he would have to accept his limits and remain satisfied with what he had.
“We are told to be what you can be, but we find out that many cannot achieve to be what they want,” he said. “You have to work at it to be happy with where you are. We can realize that and be happy with where we are.”
Regardless of whatever obstacles befell him, he constantly worked to overcome them. His hard work eventually paid off, as he was recognized many times for his athletic achievements.
His most recent recognition will be at the 2014 Frostproof Bulldogs Hall of Fame Gala on Feb. 8 at 6 p.m. at the Lake Wales Country Club, where he, along with Doyle D. Kelley and Jerel Crumbly, will be inducted.
Born in 1946 in Norfolk, Va., Sebastian lived with his grandparents near the Panama Canal where his grandfather worked as a locksmith. After his grandfather retired in 1957, they moved to Frostproof, where he has lived ever since.
In high school, he played football, basketball, and baseball — his favorite sport and the one that he played and excelled in the most.
In one district championship baseball game, he pitched seven innings with no hits, striking out 21, and continued on for two more innings until he struck out 25 out of 27 batters that game.
During that time, there was no other school their size in the area as competitive as they were aside from Fort Meade, so they often played against schools such as Okeechobee, Kissimmee, Sebring, and Avon Park.
“We would often tell a joke that we were one of the few teams that played seven or eight homecomings because everyone wanted us at homecoming,” he said. “The bigger schools would rough us up a bit, but I enjoyed it. It was a lot of fun.”
He enjoyed playing alongside his friends and teammates, most of whom considered him to be quite the jokester to play with. The teamwork and cooperation that he shared with them have been the key to his success, and without which his own individual effort would be for naught.
“Unless you are a superstar who can control a game yourself, the individual does not usually win a game,” he explained. “You have to strive to work as a team, and whether you are a leader or follower, you still have to work as a team.”
Sebastian was an all-sport letterman who played all-conference in football, basketball, and baseball. Upon graduating in 1964, he had been voted Most Valuable Football Player, Most Outstanding Baseball Player, and was chosen to play on the All-State, All-South basketball team in Gainesville.
After high school, he attended Miami-Dade College for one semester before receiving the call to go professional and sign a contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1965. Arm problems that he developed while playing forced him to be released after one season.
Upon returning to Frostproof, he was preparing to sign a contract with the Chicago White Sox, but his baseball career was curtailed when he was drafted into the army and shipped to Vietnam in 1966.
During his two years in Vietnam, he would obtain the rank of sergeant and receive his Army Accommodation, Vietnam Service, and Overseas Medals. Returning from Vietnam safe and sound, even in light of losing many childhood friends in the war, was by far his best moment.
“Just knowing I made it through that made me proud to have served, and I praise God that I survived through that,” he said.
Upon arriving home, he would move on to a career as a fruit and vegetable inspector for the Department of Agriculture, which he worked for over 40 years until retiring 10 years ago in 2002.
Currently he works part-time as an assistant pro-golf instructor at Lake Wales Country Club.
When not teaching golf, he is playing with his golf buddies two or three times a week.
He is enjoying his retirement with his wife of 40 years, Mary Sue, his son, Jerimiah, and his granddaughter, Mellissa. He spends his free time working around the house, fishing, or simply enjoying life.
For the many years in which he spent playing and excelling in sports, he is more than honored to be recognized by his community by being inducted into the Frostproof Bulldogs Hall of Fame.
“It’s a wonderful feeling to have been among some awesome outstanding athletes that have been inducted prior to me, and it’s an outstanding honor,” he said.