Ryan Stefiuk is entering his first Fall at Vanderbilt University, one of the top collegiate programs in college baseball history. Stefiuk (Green Bay, Wisconsin / Preble HS) helped lead Preble to Wisconsin state tournament appearances in 2018 and 2019. According to Perfect Game, Stefiuk was ranked in the Top-170 nationally and the 15th best left-handed pitcher in the 2020 class and the best left-handed pitcher in Wisconsin. The Rays alum Stefiuk joins coach Tim Corbin and the defending College World Series champion Commodores, a program that has produced 12 first-round MLB draft picks.

Recently Stefiuk took some time to answer some questions to be featured in our Rays Alumni Question and Answer session. It’s time to catch up with Ryan Stefiuk:

Starting your first season at Vanderbilt, was it drastically different than what your were expecting heading into Division I baseball?

Not at all. I knew what I was getting into the day I committed here. I knew there was a lot of hard work to be done and a certain standard expected when doing it.

What have practices been like with the Covid-19 restrictions/precautions been like at your school?

Practices here are different from anywhere I’ve ever played because of the extremely competitive environment and being surrounded by guys who live and breathe this kind of stuff. As far as practicing with Covid going on, there have been some adjustments made in order to respect the Universities’ guidelines and rules, including wearing masks and trying to socially distance as much as we can. We are extremely grateful for the opportunity to function as a group while all of this is still unfolding.

Playing for such a prestigious and successful program, what are some things the Coach Corbin and the rest of the staff and upperclassmen stress on a daily basis?

I’ve learned that there are many things that go into being a Vanderbilt baseball player outside of just playing the game. Coach Corbin and the older players in the program stress many things, but the thing that sticks with me the most is defining the words “Vandy Boys” themselves. Inside our program, we define this as a being a builder and and protector of a culture, with a deep passion. This definition has many components, but the biggest thing is just being a good human being.

Have you had a chance to interact with any Vandy alums in the MLB that have come back to campus?

Unfortunately we haven’t gotten the chance to meet any Vanderbilt alumni because of Covid, but I’m really looking forward to getting that opportunity in the future.

Outside of baseball practice, what baseball related activities (lifting, meetings, etc.) do you have on a weekly basis?

Outside of baseball, there are still many things that we are expected to take care of. We have daily lifts with our strength coaches and are expected to complete any personal work we have scheduled on the weekly plan that is sent out by coaches. Along with this we have many meetings every week with staff around campus, coaches and academic advisors, etc.

Could you give a brief “Day in the Life” breakdown of a normal day for you?

A typical “Day in the Life” for me would be to arrive at least an hour before the scheduled start time, then proceed with whatever activity that is scheduled on that day. During the training portion of the Fall, we would have a classroom meeting and then start our practice. First, we would warm up and stretch as a team and then break up into positions and since I’m a pitcher we would get our bodies ready to throw. After this we would go through defensive drills with the position players and then do any personal drills that were assigned to us during batting practice. After this we would meet up as a group and head up to the weight room for lift.

If there were bullpens scheduled that day then we would take care of our “opportunities.” These are specific cleaning duties assigned to us in order to keep our facilities “recruit ready.” For instance, my duty is cleaning the up the opponent’s bullpen.

Is it difficult balancing school and baseball? 

I personally don’t think so. the way i see it is that if you really love and care about something, then you can never have too much on your plate.

What’s one thing you wish you knew before starting your first season of Division I baseball?

Personally, until this past year I never really committed myself to the weight room. Entering my first Fall at Vanderbilt, I realized how big of a role that plays in your development and health. This is huge part of our program and we take it very seriously.

What advice do you have for the younger Rays players who want to follow in your footsteps and play high-level college baseball?

See your dream and go after it. It’s no one else’s journey but your own. People will always talk down on your name but your define yourself by how you respond to that. Keep your head down and keep working.

What’s your favorite Rays memory?

There are so many amazing memories that were made while playing for GRB that I don’t know if I could pick out just one. What I do know is that I had the most fun and the best experience playing for this program than I’ve ever had. The guys I played with while playing for the Rays continue to be some of my best friends. Don’t take this time for granted because the bonds and relationships you create are things that you will never forget. There is a standard you hold to be in this program and it’s your job to represent it and yourself to the best of your ability.