College athletics is big business, and when parents and their children are deciding on which school to choose it’s not as easy as it used to be.
My dream was always to go play college baseball and from there, go on to play professionally.
From the small town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, in Ontario Canada, it’s not too often that you hear of one dreaming of playing professional baseball. Many dream of making the NHL, but I preferred to take the more difficult route. Most of it had to do with the fact that I couldn’t skate. Wait, let’s clarify that. I could skate but had difficulty stopping and turning left!
Baseball was always my game though. There was just something about standing on that mound, going one on one with the batter. Of course your defence is ready to back you up, but when you have that ball in your hand, all the responsibility lies with you.
When it did become my time to start to seriously look at/for scholarships, it was a lengthy process, but one that brought me to a reality that some don’t find until it’s too late; how good am I, and what school will take me to the next level while preparing me for life after baseball.
After I identified an area of where I was willing to travel and where I wanted to play, it was time to let the self-promoting begin; videos, baseball specific resumes and multiple trips to the post office.
I was fortunate enough to receive offers from several schools, based out of various organizations; Duquesne University (NCAA DI), Calvin College (NCAA DIII), York College (NAIA), some interest from Niagara County Community College and a local Canadian institution, Brock University.
Many, and I mean many hours went into the selection process; will I start, will I sit for two years before seeing the field, how good is the team, can I play beyond my collegiate career, do I want to stay close to home, and will I get the necessary attention in my classes so that I will get an education?
A huge credit to York was their small class size. It’s not often you hear of 20-25 students in a college class with hands-on instruction from your professor.
If you ever get the chance to become a part of the NAIA family, you really get your money’s worth. The NAIA produces multiple drafts picks every year (45 in 2011), and has a long history of turning out some very high profile players like:
With the four-year scholarship offer and a chance to start from day one, my choice to go to York was the best decision I could have made.
We struggled during our first two seasons, as would any rebuilding program; nonetheless, with high quality recruits, and a new outlook during my junior and senior season, we went from division doormats to receiving votes nationally. It really makes you think back and reminisce about all the hard-work it took to achieve that status.
Because of my immediate playing time, and various amounts of success, I became one of a handful of Panthers to go on to play professionally, a time I most certainly will never forget.
The NAIA claims to be Champions of Character. I could not agree more. The NAIA allowed me to live my dream as an amateur and a professional. At the same time preparing me for life once my time on the field ended. What else could a parent or potential student-athlete want in a college experience?
I truly thank the NAIA and York College for helping to mold me into the person I have become today.
Currently, Devon is a Branch Manager at a financial institution in Northern Ontario Canada, and can be reached at [email protected]