D1 Players Society
I entered the Spring 2020 season still an uncommitted senior trying to use a strong season to prove myself to various Division 1 schools who were still seeking me for one of their final spots in their class. recruitment. Although it was very late in the recruiting cycle, many Power 5 and mid-major programs were still looking for a shortstop, my primary position. At the start of my senior season, I was lucky enough to still be in constant contact with various schools, and it was extremely encouraging for someone who was still trying to find a home.
And then… COVID
March 11, 2020 was the last game I played as a high school baseball player. And although my team (Del Norte) lost to La Costa Canyon 5-4 in a tight game, I played well on the court and made solid contact at home plate all day. I came home with many texts from college coaches who had seen clips of me from that day. Life couldn’t have been better as a high school student who wanted to play at the next level.
The next day, March 12, 2020, is a day I will never forget. [If you are a fan of college basketball and have a decent memory, you’ll remember this day as well. March Madness was kicking off, and conference tournament games around the country were about to be played, but the games would be played in empty arenas. This announcement came all because of this thing called the “Coronavirus.” Then those college basketball games/tournaments started getting canceled. On national TV, players were escorted off the court in the middle of warm-ups. It was bizarre to see.] It was weird being a high school student walking into class that day.
Again, on March 12, I arrived at my first period lesson. Everyone knew something was wrong, and it was confirmed when my teacher read us an email, which said that the school district had announced that we would be stopping in-person classes and extracurricular activities for a period of time. indefinite after this day.
I can imagine everyone treated this news differently. Some were glad there was no school. But the spring sports athletes felt different. What did that mean for baseball? My heart sank just thinking about the ramifications. More extracurriculars meant baseball was canceled. More baseball meant I had no way to prove myself to college coaches. And if I wasn’t able to prove myself, I couldn’t play at the next level. Just when it seemed like everything was finally going my way on the recruiting front, in no time, my life had been turned upside down. I was so afraid that the coaches weren’t interested in me anymore, many schools didn’t have the opportunity to see me play yet. My biggest fear happened later that day; our game the next day against Santa Fe Christian was canceled…as well as all the games that followed.
When I got home from school, I received calls from coaches, and I contacted some of them myself, with everyone’s response being relatively the same: “We have no idea how that will pan out, so we’ll have to wait and see. .” Completely understandable considering how crazy life had gotten in the past 24-48 hours. On the same day, the NCAA canceled the 2020 College World Series. There were many more questions than answers for the coaches. One thing that seemed somewhat inevitable was that the NCAA would give all spring athletes an extra year of eligibility, which meant the rosters would be overwhelmed. (The extra year of eligibility was later confirmed by the NCAA later that month) This caused many coaches to tell me that they had to wait a while to figure it all out, but being so late in the recruitment process, I didn’t have the luxury of waiting much longer.
In Comes Cal Baptist
Luckily, despite the craziness we were going through, California Baptist University coaches Gary Adcock and Andrew Brasington had been able to see me play before closing time and assured me I was their man. Cal Baptist has always been on the radar for me due to their proximity, but I would be lying if I said they were my “dream school” for my middle and high school years. Being only an hour away and religiously affiliated they were high on my list though!
Anyway, Coach Adcock was able to offer me just one week after closing, and that was an incredible relief for me. (I want to acknowledge that for every story like mine, there were hundreds of athletes who weren’t so lucky).
I then had to decide whether to take the fantastic opportunity from Cal Baptist or continue to hold my own for some of the Power 5 schools I spoke with. In hindsight, it should have been an obvious decision for me to go to Cal Baptist, but I’d be lying if I said the potential opportunity at a Pac-12 school still wasn’t on my mind. Luckily for me, I was surrounded by people who cared about me and my future. A saying I kept hearing from these people was, “Go where you’re wanted.”
So I ended up making the right decision and signed up with Cal Baptist a few weeks later. Cap Baptist is located in Riverside, CA, just an hour from my home in San Diego. I was coming into a situation where I could contribute as a rookie. On top of that, I was blown away by the fantastic facilities at Cal Baptist and the huge success they had in their early years in Division 1.
Now that I am entering my second season at Cal Baptist, I can confirm that I made the right decision 100%. I have the absolute time of my life. My freshman year still seems like straight out of a dream, we won 40 games, won a regular season conference title, hit .344 on the season, and met so many amazing people along the way. I can say with confidence that there is nowhere I would rather be than Cal Baptist, and I am truly blessed to have been put in this position.
Some separation tips
Hopefully a lot of high school gamers (and parents) will get a chance to read this article. If so, I’d like to give you some humble advice throughout the recruiting process, especially if you’re not a “top tier prospect.”
First, try not to get carried away with all the hype of a Power 5 school and find a place that really suits you. Many recruits end up falling into this trap because, let’s face it, it’s cool to say you’re recruited and/or hired from a Power-5 school. But, the reality of the situation usually kicks in the moment they show up on campus, and they realize that playing time may be minimal, and before you know it, they’re in the transfer gate. I’m not saying it happens to everyone, but the transfer portal’s 2,500 players this offseason certainly paints a telling picture. Maybe it’s an ego thing for some people, who feel like if it’s not Power 5, they’re too good for the program. But, if you play Division 1 baseball, you will play the best of the best no matter what program you play for. (Especially for someone like me on the west coast!)
The other thing I would say to a high school recruit is don’t put more pressure on yourself when you see other recruits/teammates committing to schools. Everyone develops physically and mentally at different times. Your time will eventually come, so go out and play the game you love, have fun and everything will work itself out.
I know it did for me.
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