Club baseball gives players a second chance

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First year pitcher Zach Scott warms up before practice on Feb. 3. Photo credit: Carlos Islas

There comes a moment in every athlete’s life when they are faced with the overwhelming possibility that their time playing the sport they love, may be coming to an end. For baseball players who still have that urge to play and aren’t ready to throw in their gloves just yet, the Chico State club baseball team provides that second chance players are looking for.

Club president and sophomore coach Brayden Cleland started the club a year ago with one main goal in mind.

“I wanted to just spread the opportunity to be able to keep playing,” Cleland said. “Just because you don’t make an NCAA team doesn’t mean you should have to stop playing baseball.”

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Junior catcher Kyle Prager warms up by catching for the team's pitchers. Photo credit: Carlos Islas

Cleland came up with the idea as a first-year student, when he found himself missing what he had always done his whole life – baseball.

“I was sitting in my dorm, and I needed something to do. I was missing baseball because that’s all I’ve ever done my entire life,” Cleland said. “I thought there’s gotta be other guys out there that think the way I do, there’s gotta be guys out there that are missing something.”

Cleland’s drive and determination led him to the Humboldt State club baseball page where he found the National Club Baseball Association. The association walked him through the necessary steps involved in creating a club sport.

Two of the first players who couldn’t wait to start playing for the new team were twin brothers Danny and Joey Brink.

Both are junior kinesiology majors at Chico State and have the same exact school schedule. Along with sharing the same looks, the two twins share something even more special and that’s the love of the game.

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Juniors Joey and Danny Brink pose in their Chico State Club baseball gear. Photo credit: Carlos Islas

“We were hoping to play for the Chico State team but that didn’t work out, and we were lucky enough to meet some guys who were starting a club baseball team and that’s how we got here,” Danny Brink said.

The Brinks were on the team last year when the club was first getting off the ground. The team wasn’t very good mainly because they didn’t have a consistent group of players, some would come and some would leave.

“We were on the team last season and it didn’t go so well,” Joey Brink said. “But this year is looking way better so far, we are really good.”

Compared to last year, it has been a complete 180 turn around in almost every way. When the club held tryouts in October it had almost 60 players show up wanting to play.

“This year’s team is more talented than I ever expected honestly, being a club sports team,” Cleland said.

They were also dealing with where to play, a lot of the fields around town wouldn’t allow them to use their facilities.

“Trying to find a field was probably one of the biggest challenges that we faced during the whole process of making the club,” Cleland said.

Cleland finally found a field that would allow them to play their games on and that was Chico East Side Little League.

“It’s a give and take sort of relationship,” Cleland said. “We will umpire games for them and do work on the fields, but it allows us to play here and that’s really all that matters.”

All of their hard work and determination seems to be paying off as the team is now 7-1 and starting to make a name for itself.

“We are doing well, one of our goals is to be one of the top club sports at Chico State, but we also want to have fun and enjoy it as much as possible,” Cleland said.

Jason Spies can be reached at [email protected] or @Jason_Spies on Twitter.