Let me be the first to tell you that my decision to come play baseball at Westfield State was one of the best decisions I have made. As a senior in high school, I always dreamed ofbeing an athlete in college and playing baseball at a prestigious institution with the hopes of getting looked at to play after college. Oh how small-minded I was at the time! When things fell through at other schools I was looking at, I decided to go to Westfield State in the fall of 2013 to further my education and baseball career. What I did not know at that time was the amount of character I would develop and the long-lasting relationships I would build throughout my tenure here.
As a freshman, I learned to follow. Every person hoping to lead someday has to learn how to follow. This was especially important for me due to the fact that I was sidelined the entire year because of reconstructive surgery on my elbow heading into that year. I did not expect much from my teammates because I was unable to physically contribute on the field because of my injury, but without the relationships I built that year, I would have had a tough time enjoying myself. The seniors on the team at the time took me under their wings and taught me what exactly it meant to be a baseball player, but more importantly, a highly valued member of the Westfield State community. Yes, we went over the baseball aspects and how to lift properly, but I was taught how to treat others with respect, and work as hard as I possibly could to achieve academic success. The 6 a.m. hitting sessions and endless time in the weight room rehabilitating my reconstructed elbow pushed me to work through adversity and helped me to start building a sense of what character actually means. I will be forever be in debt to those seniors who made me feel like a big part of a team that I never played a single game with the entire year.
Moving through sophomore and junior year, I was honored to be able to start at first base for the Owls baseball team helping our crew to advance deep in the MASCAC playoffs. While we did not claim the title either of those years, we made significant strides toward building our reputation as quality student athletes on campus and in the Westfield community. I, along with my teammates, learned to get involved with certain events on campus and attend leadership seminars to help continue to build this sense of character I have been talking about.
You see, getting involved with college athletics here at Westfield gives you endless opportunities to make a contribution to the community of Westfield State students, all while building lifelong relationships with teammates and coaches in the process. Now, going into my senior year, I have transitioned to living in a house with seven of my teammates, all of which I know will play a big role in the rest of my life. Along with the other seniors in the house, I hope to pass down the tradition of what it means to be a Westfield State baseball player, just like those seniors did for me during my first few years here.
The tradition isn’t about leaving a legacy about who YOU are and what YOU did, but is grounded in the fact that we are representatives of Westfield State wherever we choose to go after college, and we better make the best of that. Giving this University the credit it deserves in my future career and making sure I represent it in the best way possible is what I will pride myself on as I take my last few steps on Bud and Jim Hagan field this year, and is something I hope for all future athletes that have the privilege of calling themselves a Westfield State Owl.