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Q&A: Wildcats talk about athletes they emulate

Julie Ortega

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Junior infielder Andrew Carrillo takes a swing on April 12 in a game against Cal State Dominguez Hills. Photo credit: Ryan Pressey

Growing up, children are influenced by many people, but only a few can be considered role models.

Whether the role model is famous or not, as an individual, people try to imitate their talent and potential.

Before getting in the zone, Wildcat athletes remember who their role models are and why they do what they do.

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Clayton Gelfand

Clayton Gelfand — sophomore infielder, baseball

Who was your role model when you first started your baseball career?

Growing up, I always was a big fan of Dustin Pedroia. He plays the game hard and doesn’t let his size affect the way he competes. He’s a gamer and plays with a chip on his shoulder.

Do you try to imitate his style of play on the field?

I would like to think I play as hard as Pedroia, but I don’t think his style can be matched by anyone in the bigs. I try my best to play with passion, heart and attitude like Pedroia.

What qualities do you look for in a role model and why?

I look for someone who works hard, and someone who’s not been given things on a silver platter. I look for someone who wears their heart on their sleeve and leaves everything on the field every game. Most of all, I look for someone who competes day in and day out and plays the game the “baseball gods” intended it to be played.

What is your favorite MLB team and who is your favorite player from that team?

Being from the (Pacific Northwest), my favorite team is the Seattle Mariners. My favorite player would hands down be Robinson Cano. He’s one of the smoothest defenders in the league and, in my opinion, has the best swing in baseball. He plays the game with a cocky swagger but backs it up day in and day out.

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Andrew Carrillo

Andrew Carrillo — junior infielder, baseball

Do you have any role models?

Derek Jeter is one for sure, especially on the baseball field. And actually Greg Plitt, who is an ex-Army ranger and a kind of like a bodybuilder.

Why are they your role models?

Derek Jeter just because he’s the man. He just stands for everything that is right. I love his attitude on the field — a team guy and just confidence in his ability to stay with the same approach day in, day out for 20 years.

Are your role models people you try to imitate on the field?

Yeah, I would say when I hit, Derek Jeter is big on going opposite ways. I’m playing field too, and I don’t have power. I’m not a big guy so, you know, I try to model my game after his.

Growing up what role models did you have?

Derek Jeter was definitely one of them. Alex Rodriguez too. But I mean Alex Rodriguez — I don’t know if you’ve heard, but he’s not the cleanest guy around, so I can’t really consider him a role model anymore. But I used to love the way he played the game for sure.

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Germay Tesfai

Germay Tesfai — senior distance runner, track and field

Do you have any role models?

Yeah, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan. Kenenisa Bekele, He’s the world record holder in the 5k and 10k. Haile Gerbrselassie. Any of the greatest runners are from East Africa, so it makes sense. And Mohamed Farah, he won the gold this last Olympics in the 5k and 10k. Kobe Bryant. He’s probably my No. 1 role model, even though he doesn’t do the sport of running — just the mentality that he has in the sport in competing and giving 100 percent every time.

Why are the runners your role models?

Just because of how great they are, and just how they compete and how effortlessly they make competing look at a high level. Because running is a challenging sport. When you see someone break the world record and make it look that easy, you know that’s like the goal. You want to be like them. You want to be as smooth as them, as challenging as it might be. You want to have that type of role model.

Have your role models changed over the years?

No, always the same since I was a kid — since I was 12 years old. I guess “Mo” Farah is pretty new, because he just won the Olympics, and he’s this badass.

Julie Ortega can be reached at [email protected] or @julieOrtega_ on Twitter.

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Q&A: Wildcats talk about athletes they emulate