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Four Promoted to the College Ranks for RHS Baseball in ’19

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Four Promoted to the College Ranks for RHS Baseball in ’19

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Of the nearly half a million students who play varsity baseball in high school in America, only around 7% will have the opportunity to join a college team. Two years ago, RHS baseball sent two pitchers to the college ranks who both made appearances in NCAA games last year: Jon Turk for the University of Rochester Yellowjackets and Ryan Vatcher for the Babson College Beavers. This year, three 2019 pitchers and a middle infielder join them at that level: middle infielder Brian Dovidio, right handed pitcher Michael Ghiorsi, right handed pitcher Daniel Cantor, and this article’s author, left handed pitcher William Kennedy.

The process of committing to a college team can take a lot of twists and turns and is usually the culmination of a lot of hard work during the off season, summer and fall, as senior captain Brian Dovidio confirmed. The school he would eventually commit to, Dean College in Franklin, Massachusetts, was on his list of twelve target schools for academic reasons including the majors offered, campus, and facilities, and yet he confirmed he didn’t expect to play baseball there at the beginning of the process. Fortunately the Dean Coach saw a video of him playing on his summer squad, the Complete Game Colonials, and so on a visit to another college he added a visit to Dean College to the trip. Two weeks later he attended a baseball camp at the school, an opportunity to back up in real life what was shown on video.

Brian felt like the camp went well, but wasn’t 100% sure. Then at the end of August, while eating at a Cheesecake Factory in Philadelphia before a Red Sox/Phillies MLB game, he received a phone call from the Coach with an offer to play, and after a quick and excited conversation with his family, committed to attending and joining the Bulldogs of Dean College.

Another senior captain, Michael Ghiorsi, first made contact with the coaching staff of Hamilton College in Clinton, New York over email, and followed that up by pitching effectively against a team with a number of recruited players in a summer tournament when they came to see him play. The Hamilton coaches reached out to him after the game, and he attended one of their camps. As they continued to express interest, Michael took an overnight visit on campus, interviewed with admissions, and received his acceptance on February 8th. He notes the entire experience was an exciting process with a rewarding conclusion: the opportunity to attend an academically challenging small college with an open curriculum and a competitive baseball team, the Hamilton Continentals. He also advises that none of it would have come together had he not put himself out there and advocated for himself.

My own experience was similar to both Brian’s and Michael’s. From the age of around 12 onward I committed myself to getting better at baseball: hitting the weights, doing off-season training, and finding a decent club team to play for, at the time the Teels Ravens in Wyckoff. My original goal was earning an opportunity to play in high school, but at some point I started to re-frame that goal into trying to play in college too. In the spring of junior year, I came up with a list of schools that had the major I wanted, computer science, and that were in an academic range I was aspiring to.

From left to right: William Kennedy, Brian Dovidio, and Daniel Cantor with RHS Baseball Coach William Chesney

The process of getting noticed for the baseball team then becomes a logistics one: how will coaching staffs see you play, what are their needs for the team, and do you in the framework of their evaluation philosophy fit those needs? I was pitching for my summer squad, the NJ Marlins, and provided some video of me pitching to a list of target schools. A few schools also contacted me after I’d pitched at various tournaments over the summer in Massachusetts, Georgia, and Connecticut, but matching the needs of a specific baseball program with the academics I was hoping for was a challenge. To put it another way, the idea that a coach from a college that is a fit academically, personally, and athletics wise will randomly show up at a game is not a very tenable one. It does happens, coaches travel all over, but there’s usually more coordination involved as Michael noted.

At the end of summer I went to a showcase style camp, spoke to a number of coaches, answered follow ups requesting more information, and then waited. As early September rolled around I started to get texts and calls from coaches that had seen me over the summer, and among them was an invitation to visit Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio, which, similar to Brian, was a school on my original list. I took a campus tour, read more about the specific degree program, and liked what I saw. After speaking with the three coaches, visiting the facility, and spending time with the team in their first practice on Dill Field; it all seemed like a good fit. As someone who appreciates both history and baseball history, the idea of playing for the same squad that Moses Fleetwood Walker once played for, a team formed in 1881, was a neat thing to think about. Fortunately they were in the market for left handed pitching with a couple of effective lefties graduating, and a good match was made with the Oberlin Yeomen.

On November 19th, Danny Cantor announced he’s committed to Clarkson University in Potsdam, NY as a right handed pitcher for the Golden Knights.

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