Finding home and hitting home runs

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Being a freshman anywhere isn’t easy. Being a freshman at the University of Dallas  may be particularly peculiar. Just when you think you’ve mastered the high school hierarchy, you’re plucked up, placed in a beige building in Irving and expected to understand why Groundhog Day is clearly the greatest holiday in the whole of Christendom. Then there is, of course, the honorable and odorous Core curriculum, in addition to the daunting task of making brand new friends. For our athletes, their dedication to their sport adds yet another ball to the balancing act. The freshman baseball players are rising to the challenge. 

It’s no secret that the academics at UD are rigorous and time-consuming. For all the knowledge, skills and virtues our education here develops, it is undeniable that learning how to balance academics and a social life. 

Teagan Mansfield, #20 and freshman business major, said: “Being a student-athlete at the collegiate level is a huge step up from anything I have experienced. It takes all the time and effort I have to balance baseball with my school work.” 

Noah Sharar, #4 and freshman biochemistry major, agreed. Sharar admitted, “The hardest thing I have had to learn is time management.”

 George Clahane, #24 and freshman business major, is similarly taking the challenge of being a student athlete with a true eagerness for growth. He sees it as an opportunity to learn and to develop.

 “UD has humbled me in the classroom and on the field,” Clahane commented. “I have so much more to learn.”

It was clear from interviewing  these freshmen athletes that what gives them the strength to take on the responsibilities of being a student athlete is the people who surround them. Every player shared that their support system is their friends and especially family members. They  are the keys to their success and sanity as UD athletes. 

“My family, friends and girlfriend have helped me throughout this journey,” Brett Castillo, #22 and a freshman business major, commented. “I wouldn’t be here without their love and support.” 

As  the freshmen face common challenges on the field and  the demands of the classroom, the comradeship in the baseball community has been another pillar of support for these freshmen. Mansfield recognizes that it is this solidarity in facing the challenges that makes it a joy to confront.

Mansfield shared, “[M]y teammates support me because they are also experiencing the same lifestyle and it makes it fun when everyone is able to get through it together.” 

“I have never been a part of such a close team,” Clahane said. “No matter the situation we are always there for each other.”

What drew these gentlemen to take on such a judicious juggling act? Between baseball, the business program and the obvious appeal of the beige buildings, the boys emphasized that there was something special about UD. 

“I came to UD to continue my baseball career because I knew it was going to be a great opportunity for me,” Austin Birkhoff, #9 and a freshman business major, said. “I heard about what they were trying to accomplish here, and I wanted to be a part of it.” 

Donnie Dycus, #14 and a business major, commented, “[a]s soon as I stepped on campus it just felt right.”

The freshmen baseball players are excited to stir up Crusader support this season. They want to build large crowds at games and get the community more involved. 

Birkhoff said, “We want to turn UD baseball into something special, something people are excited to come [to] experience and watch.” 

Dominic Gill, #25 and a freshman business major, shared that a major goal that the team wants to achieve. “Make the 2023 UD baseball season one the University will never forget,” Gill declared. 

There is no doubt that they will accomplish this goal. Their dedication, gratitude for the people who support them and their desire to grow will take them far, both in their sport and in their studies. Their freshman season, and freshman year, will give these eager and dedicated young men a chance to show what they can accomplish.

In the words of Sharar, “Go Crusaders!”

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