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Entering Freshmen Year at UMD

This blog dives into the experience Alex had as he began his carrer at the University of Maryland.

The path to College Park seemed clear once I committed to the baseball team in high school. I was excited to play with (in my opinion) the coolest looking state flag in the country on my chest, in a beautiful stadium, for Coach Erik Bakich. Coach Bakich had visited me and my family many times leading up to my senior year of high school summer. I had been receiving other offers to de-commit from UMD and play at other schools like the University of Virginia, Duke, and St. John’s to name a few. The relationship that I had built with Coach Bakich was strong, and the players that he had recruited in the 2012 class were quickly becoming some of my closest friends, despite being from different parts of the country. I was eager to get on campus and play with the other incoming freshman. Perfect Game and D1 Baseball had our recruiting class ranked within the Top 20 in the country. We had group chats in which we would message funny videos and pictures, talk about sports and topics that interested us, and hype each other up for upcoming games. Many of us were scheduling trips to College Park for sporting events so we could hang out together before we got on campus in the fall of 2012. On top of all that communication many of us were playing in the same tournaments in Georgia, Florida, and North Carolina, so we would often get dinner and hang out at the end of the day. Even the parents became friendly and would encourage us to communicate and get together with our future teammates.

While playing for the Midland Redskins in early August, I got a call from Coach Bakich. He had just accepted the head coaching job at the University of Michigan and wanted to know if I would join him. This news caught me off guard and I didn’t know what to say other than I was happy for him and his family, and the new opportunity Ann Arbor was going to present them. I spoke with my parents, and they wanted me to go to the school that I believed would help me achieve my academic and athletic goals, while in an environment that I could thrive in. I had a difficult decision to make at that time, and the decision process continued to become more challenging when my teammates on the Midland team heard of my departed coach. They began calling the head coaches of the universities they were committed to including Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Kentucky, Stoney Brook, and Arkansas. So now I had to make the decision, do I stick to my commitment to the University of Maryland? Do I follow the head coach I wanted to play for in Ann Arbor? Or do I roll the dice on one of these other schools that will match my scholarship that I was receiving at Maryland without really knowing what situation I would be committing to with a lot of unknowns?

I was able to remove one of the possibilities right away and that was to go to Michigan with Coach Bakich. The reason being was that I wanted to play in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) or Southeastern Conference (SEC), and at the time the BIG10 (Michigan’s conference) wasn’t where I wanted to play because of the cold weather. After speaking with my Midland teammates and their college coaches, South Carolina, Kentucky, and Stony Brook agreed to match my scholarship that Maryland was giving me. South Carolina and Kentucky both played in the SEC. Stony Brook was an hour from my parents’ house in New York and they had just come off an incredible College World Series run and were reloading their roster to make another run at the championship. All three were extremely attractive landing spots for me if I chose to de-commit from Maryland.

All these conversations were happening within a couple of days of the initial news that Coach Bakich was leaving for Michigan, so things were in a scramble. I had received a call from the new head coach that UMD had hired, John Szefc. My first impression of Coach Szefc was that he was a no-nonsense kind of person, who would demand from us what we demanded of ourselves, allowing us the freedom to make mistakes while helping us learn from them. The next coach that I played for would shape the rest of my career, and I wanted to make sure I was putting my faith in the right coach. After a few conversations with Coach Szefc, I began to trust that he could be that coach to help me take the next step in my career and as a person.

While all of this was going on I forgot about the other guys in my recruiting class and how this was going to affect them. Were we all going to de-commit and attend different schools? Were some guy