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Batter Up!

I am so amped about the Sooner baseball team playing in the College World Series this weekend, I was considering driving to Omaha to see them play South Carolina on Sunday. When I pitched this idea to my lovely wife, she helped me see that a nine-hour drive there, with the kids in tow, followed by a late nine-hour drive home after the game was probably not such a great idea. She’s a smart woman.

But it got me to thinking about athletes, baseball players in particular. The College of Liberal Studies services nontraditional students and working adults. Of all the sports played on this campus and beyond, baseball players by far are the most represented athletes in our college. Many have earned, or are currently earning their degrees through us. It’s hard to put my finger on exactly why they are driven to succeed, but they do.

CJ Blue, a former Sooner pitcher, was our outstanding senior in 2008 and graduated with his bachelor’s degree in 2009. He is a perfect example of a successful CLS student and athlete. He not only competed at the highest level, CJ also had the discipline to fulfill his responsibilities to his education, which he did primarily online. Here is what CJ had to say about his time with us.

“Since we are gone a lot during the season, the liberal studies program is awesome because I could do my work anywhere without worrying about missing class, or missing notes.”

He also observed that being a student athlete instilled discipline not only on the field, but also with his school work because throughout his life he was taught discipline and accountability in both. Being unsuccessful in class not only hurts the individual, but also the team, to CJ’s way of thinking.

Jesse Zepeda recently wrapped up his degree with us. He was a second baseman and short stop for the Sooners during the mid-90s, played in the College World Series too, and spent some time in the majors. Now, he coaches for Cal-Poly. With the wisdom that comes age, Zepeda says that baseball is not forever but a degree is. It was especially important for Coach Zepeda to have a degree from the University of Oklahoma.

So, I’ll be cheering for the Sooners from home while high-fiving my wife for talking me out of all that driving. At the same time, I’ll be watching to see if the allusive character trait that baseball players bring with them to their coursework, in our college in particular, presents itself. Go Sooners!

Update: The College of Liberal Studies was renamed the College of Professional and Continuing Studies in 2017.