Sixteen players from my school have entered the transfer portal in just the last two and a half years. That number is actually low compared to other programs when you consider COVID-induced roster increases and a “new” head coaching coming in this past fall.
There are plenty of reasons to enter the transfer portal in this age of college baseball: playing time, coaching moves, wanting to be closer to your girlfriend, being homesick, graduating, or just wanting to get a change of scenery. Entering my fifth and final season at Tennessee Tech, I’ve heard and seen them all. And I don’t want to seem like I’m knocking anyone for transferring; as I said, there are plenty of reasons to want to transfer.
But, there are also plenty of reasons not to transfer that are bigger than just playing time. At the time of writing this article, I’ve been a Tennessee Tech Golden Eagle for 1,275 days. In that timespan, I have been so fortunate to be around teammates, coaches, and support staff who are not only good baseball people but just good people overall—having good people in your life matters. Those people, the relationships I’ve made with them, and the loyalty I have to them is the most important thing to me. When you commit to something, especially to good people you care about, you have to stay with that.
That’s not to say it’s been easy. I had five appearances (3.2 innings) my freshman year. I had zero my sophomore year. I only pitched 8.2 innings in 2020 before the season got cut short. You can do the math, that’s only a little over 12 innings pitched in 3 years. That would have been a week of work in high school for me. It would have been easy to transfer after the 2020 season, and no one would have blamed me. But I made a commitment to Tennessee Tech, the people around me there, and most importantly, myself to finish what I started.
Last year in the 2021 season, I led the team in appearances out of the bullpen. I was proud of being counted on by all those my teammates and coaches. And as I enter my final season, I am proud of being able to look at where I started at Tennessee Tech and where I am with my team and know that we are ready for 2022.
Advice To Players Starting Their Careers
I want to share some advice if you’re starting your career, especially at a mid-major. I’m not saying I’m right or wrong; I’m just saying I’ve been around the block. Here are three things I wish I knew my first day as a freshman:
- Enjoy the routines. Enjoy the workouts. Enjoy the practices. Enjoy the competition. I’m going to miss competing with my friends every day and the little nuances from our everyday routines. The memories and the daily competition are what I am going to remember and what is going to bring me joy when I look back on my career here.
- Don’t get caught up in how things appear to be at other places. Especially in your first season, make the most out of the situation you are in, be a good teammate, and know your role on the team. At mid-major schools, the keys to being a good team are that everyone has a role, knows their role, and plays those roles to the best of their abilities. Know your role and help your team win.
- Just sit back and listen sometimes. Listen to your teammates, listen to your coaches, listen to your athletic trainers. Just listen. You will find out little parts of the game (and life) that will stick with you for the rest of your career. Trust the people above you who have been there and learn as much as you can.
The Final Go Around
My mindset going into my senior season is one of appreciation; I want to take every moment in and appreciate the good times whenever and wherever they appear.
There will be a lot of opportunities for us this year to be in positions to win. As one of the “elder statesmen” of the team, I was around as a freshman for our team’s success in 2018 with Coach Bragga; I look forward to helping guide some of the younger guys as they grow this season and help them get ready to compete. That’s the biggest thing for me this season: I want me and my teammates to compete to the best of our abilities and appreciate every moment.
I have always loved the game of baseball because it gives me a chance to get after it and compete alongside my best friends.
2022 is going to be no different. Wings Up!