Was your first season at Virginia drastically different than what you were expecting heading into the ACC?
My first season at Virginia honestly wasn’t a whole lot different than what I expected. I knew I would be playing in one of the top conferences when it comes to college baseball so I knew the talent would be strong. I think the biggest thing for me was telling myself I belonged at this level. Going from a junior college to playing at a top D1 program you see a lot of things that you don’t see at the JUCO level.
What is travel like when you are on a road trip?
Usually we will leave on a Thursday morning or Thursday afternoon depending on if we are driving or flying. We arrive wherever we are going Thursday evening and have a short practice at their field and then head to the hotel. Usually our games are at night so Friday and Saturday so we have a lot of time on our hands. We usually have meetings about the game that night or just hangout until we leave the hotel. Sunday’s depending on how far the trip is we usually get home around 8 pm or 9 pm.
What is it like playing in front of over 2,000 fans at home?
Playing in front of 2,000 fans is always fun. It brings a little more excitement for us and it’s cool knowing we have a great fanbase. Going into this year with COVID-19, I’m hoping that fans will be allowed into the stadium by the time our season rolls around.
What was it like when you got the news that last season was going to be cancelled due to Covid?
Getting the news that our season was cancelled really hurt. We were on our way to Pittsburgh for a series after just winning a series against NC State who was ranked 7th at the time. We were 14-4 and ranked in the Top-25 so everybody was really excited. We stopped to eat at Olive Garden and everybody was on twitter seeing conferences suspending games. We had an idea that the ACC would be following other conferences. We got back on the bus and our coach told us we are heading back home. In the back of my head I figured the season was getting cancelled but didn’t want to believe it. I went on twitter and saw that someone tweeted the College World Series was cancelled and knew that was it. I think the worst part about it wasn’t that we were playing so well but knowing we as a team wouldn’t get to play another game together hurt.
What have practices been like with the Covid-19 restrictions/precautions been like at your school?
Practices have been as normal as they can be for the most part during the pandemic. We have to wear a mask or gaiter at all times inside the stadium, social distance as much as we can out on the field, we can’t be huddled up at all. It has been tough for us but everybody on our team just wants to be able to play baseball again and are willing to do whatever it takes for that to happen.
Outside of baseball practice, what baseball related activities (lifting, meetings, etc.) do you have on a weekly basis?
Outside of practice we lift 4 times a week, we usually have a few meetings every week whether that’s for academics, or baseball related. And then once it gets to be the end of fall ball we will start conditioning 3 or 4 days a week.
Could you give a brief “Day in the Life” breakdown of a normal day for you?
A day in life for me is waking up at 7 am or 7:30 am, eating breakfast and then depending on the day I’ll have a lift at 8:45 am. After lift come home shower, hop on zoom for class from 9:30 am to 12:15 pm. After my classes are done I’ll make lunch and head to the field at 12:45 pm. We start working out on the field at 1:45 pm to 2:30 pm warming up and then team practice starts at 2:30 pm and usually goes to around 5:30 pm. After practice I’ll go home, eat dinner around 7 pm, and then if I have homework, do that till about 10 pm and then I usually head back up to the field and hit in the cages from about 10:30 pm to 12 am and head home and go to bed. This is usually what everyday looks like. Some days we will have meetings, or some days I’ll watch film from our scrimmages.
Is it difficult balancing school and baseball?
Balancing baseball and school at times can get hard but for the most part if you stay on top of your school work it makes everything easier. I know during the season we are on the road a lot and missing class but we really do have a lot of time where we can get our work done in time and not stress about it. It also helps us having tutors and people we can reach out to if we need help with certain things that we are struggling with. Overall, I think it is all about managing your time wisely. If you do that it won’t be a problem.
What’s one thing you wish you knew before starting your first season of Division I baseball?
I think one thing I wish I knew was how small of a difference there is from a JUCO to a D1 program. Obviously there are many differences but when you look at the game and the talent there isn’t a huge gap in the talent from JUCO players and D1 players.
What advice do you have for the younger Rays players who want to follow in your footsteps and play high-level college baseball?
A piece of advice for the younger Rays players is work as hard as you can. I’ve always been told you don’t want to look back in your past and be like I wish I would have done this more. You have to work as hard as you can every single day. It isn’t easy by any means but once you get to where you wanted to get to one day it makes you feel good. I look back at my path and go from no schools talking to me out of high school to going to Madison College and now at the University of Virginia. I wouldn’t be where I am today if I didn’t work hard.
What’s your favorite Rays memory?
My favorite Rays memory was playing at Vanderbilt in Nashville the day after they won the College world series. I remember we got to meet Dansby Swanson and a few other guys and that was pretty cool at the time because I wanted to be in his position one day. There are so many great memories I have playing in the Ray’s program it’s hard to choose just one.