Friday, November 4, 2016

Guilford's Hymowitz Takes Lacrosse Game to Israel

            Jake Hymowitz saw his junior season with the men’s lacrosse team come to an early end last spring as he suffered a knee injury prior to the 2016 campaign. But before returning to the team for his senior year, Hymowitz spent his summer spreading the game of lacrosse internationally.
            Andrew Landsman, a goalie for the Israel National team who helped it to the 2016 European Lacrosse Federation Gold-Medal Match, reached out to Hymowitz via Facebook Messenger about an opportunity to play in Israel. Landsman represented Israel Lacrosse, the organization that runs the Israel Premier Lacrosse League (IPLL). Israel Lacrosse’s goal is to spread the game and spark interest in the sport throughout the country.
            “I was excited to spend the summer playing lacrosse in Israel,” said Hymowitz.
            Along with many other Jewish-American college players, Hymowitz participated through a birthright trip offered by Israel Lacrosse. The trip is free of charge for the athletes.
            Upon arrival, the birthright players had the opportunity to scrimmage the Israel National Lacrosse team and won, 17-2.
Israel’s National team is comprised mainly of Jewish-American players. Israel Lacrosse hopes the IPLL spreads the game to the citizens of the country so more Israeli-born players fill the roster.
            Hymowitz played defense for a lacrosse club located in the city of Be’er Sheva. It was the club’s debut season and it hired Jordan Hirsch as head coach. Hirsch played at Nazareth College in New York and was a member of the 2004 team that reached the Division III National Championship game. He briefly served as an assistant coach at Guilford’s Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) rivals Hampden-Sydney College (2008) and Lynchburg College (2008-2010).
            Hymowitz and the team had their first match with Haifa LC, a 5-4 Be’er Sheva victory. The city of Haifa did not have an official lacrosse team, so Haifa LC was composed of the Israel National team, which used the league play as preparation for the European Championships.  Hirsch’s team overcame the lack of preparation and Hirsch’s absence.
“We played our first game without a coach, and having met each other the day before,” said Hymowitz. “We were like a family by the end [of the season]. This game started our bond.”
 In the city, most of the community had not previously heard of lacrosse. This summer marked the first year lacrosse was introduced to the youth of Be’er Sheva.
            “Most people were more confused than excited at first, because they had no idea what lacrosse was,” said Hymowitz. “People looked at us like we were crazy. We carried six-foot poles and equipment while sporting the same logo as their soccer team (Be’er Sheva FC).”
            Be’er Sheva LC’s success promoted the sport throughout the city. Hymowitz and his teammates worked with Sticks for Kids, a program that connected players with local youth through lacrosse.
            “Every time we showed up to a school to teach a clinic, the kids were beyond excited, especially as we started to win games and get more recognition,” said Hymowitz. “Some kids even asked for autographs, which was a crazy experience.”
            Hymowitz and his teammates also worked with the Be’er Sheva youth lacrosse team that formed in conjunction with the official club team.
            “These U15 kids who started practicing and playing when we did had never played lacrosse before,” said Hymowitz. “They were always excited to come out. To see how they progressed and got better over time was great.”
            Be’er Sheva won the nationally televised IPLL championship game at the end of the season and finished with a 7-1 record. It defeated Haifa LC once again, in the title round, 11-10, in overtime of the championship game held at Wolfson Fields in Tel Aviv.
            After graduating, Hymowitz wants to play for the Israel National team. However, he noted the importance of giving the game of lacrosse to the community.

            “The playing aspect was fun for me, but that’s not why we were there,” said Hymowitz. “We were there for the kids. We were there for the kids and the game.”

Friday, May 8, 2015

Student Body President Molly Anne Marcotte Running on All Cylinders

Sophomore Molly Anne Marcotte is one of the best distance runners on Guilford College’s track and field team. This year she decided to run for the Community Senate presidency. Marcotte won the race, and now seeks to help usher Guilford through difficult times. She is believed to be Guilford’s first active varsity student-athlete to preside over the student body in at least 25 years. Marcotte hopes her experience as a ballet dancer and identity as a feminist, student-athlete and fitness guru will help her be a successful president. 

As president, one of Marcotte’s goals is to provide equal representation to all Guilford students, which will likely require a bit of a balancing act. Marcotte knows the drill well after being offered a chance to pursue a professional ballet dancing career by Joffrey Ballet School in New York City. The demands of ballet were too high for Marcotte to accept the offer. She wanted to apply her energy elsewhere—namely, humanitarian endeavors and track and field. As an NCAA Division III school, Guilford supports her ambitions and affords her the opportunity to be a proactive member of the community.

Once Marcotte arrived at Guilford she immediately became involved in campus activities aimed at helping others. She is passionate in her roles with the Community Aids Awareness Project, the Sexual Assault Awareness Support group and Community Senate. Marcotte also holds prominent positions as a judicial affairs chair member and a peer health and wellness intern for the Wellness Education Department. These activities reveal her first love: public health. “I’m very passionate about that because when your health isn’t up to par, you won’t function efficiently.” Functioning efficiently is how Marcotte is able to excel as a student, athlete and leader simultaneously.

“If anyone is going to balance athletics and academics [as president], it’s [Molly],” says Guilford assistant track and field coach Kimberly Cash. In her short time at Guilford, Marcotte has taken on increasing burdens without ever losing a step. She was a sprinter at first, but moved into middle distance during the 2014 outdoor season. Marcotte extended her distance as a sophomore, adding the 3,000- and 5,000-meter runs to her repertoire. Next year, Marcotte may take on the most grueling task by running the 10k. Head track and field coach Danny Cash says she has grown from her freshman to sophomore year by absorbing information about athletics and academics and translating it into the person she is today.

A huge part of the person Marcotte is today is her intersectional feminist philosophy. Her beliefs speak for themselves when discussing how her feminist identity might help her as president. “Feminism isn’t feminism unless we are inclusive of all races, genders, sexual orientations, bodies, income levels, ages, occupations, regions, ethnicities—we need to include it all.” Marcotte wants to bring this all-encompassing approach to Guilford’s student politics.

Marcotte’s role as a Guilford student-athlete is also very important to her. “Molly is very dedicated, very goal oriented and one of her best things is she’s very good with time management,” says head track and field coach Danny Cash. He says these skills, as well as working well in a team environment, will transfer to the presidency. As a student-athlete who paces herself on the track and in the classroom, it is not hard to imagine Marcotte adding student-body president to the mix and approaching the responsibility with equal poise.

“Once she [becomes president], it won’t take her long to figure out everything and know what’s going on,” says Danny. With two full years left in her undergraduate experience to affect Guilford’s future, Marcotte’s past experiences have prepared her for the times ahead. “Molly won the presidential race due to her never dying perseverance, intuition, dedication, and her firm beliefs in making sure that Guilford's seven core values are evident in the student body and Guilford community,” says friend Ava Nadel. This description alone reveals a wealth of character.

"Nothing is holding me back from trying to be one of the people on an executive team trying to affect change in the community,” Marcotte says. The desire to change Guilford will come to bear next year. At the top of her list are issues such as administrative and budget transparency, community activism, student representation, the issue of retention and multicultural educational programming. As a former ballet dancer, current student-athlete, feminist and workout warrior, Marcotte is ready to be the change Guilford requires.

- by Jacob Kapp ‘15

Friday, May 1, 2015

Tennis Rackets Saved by Votipka's Spiritual Journey

   Life as a tennis racket early in Turner Votipka’s career was a dangerous pastime. “I went through two a year, at least, in high school,” the Guilford College senior said. He had even broken two rackets in one match before.

“I would let rage overcome me.”

Now a graduating senior, Votipka is Guilford College’s number-one tennis player and much has changed since his racket-breaking days. He is a team captain and received the school’s prestigious Nereus C. English Athletic Leadership Award. His junior year proved a transformation had taken place as he had three rackets at one time. “It was cool. I’ve never had three rackets at once before,” said Votipka.

What changed? Votipka had a spiritual blossoming.

Votipka grew up in a traditional Baptist setting near Rocky Mount, North Carolina. His mom worked for the church. “But my understanding of church growing up was that God loved me…but I needed to do good things to live that life out.” Votipka says he did whatever he was told because he believed that was his ticket to heaven.

Votipka decided to join a Bible study his freshman year at Guilford. “He came to the Bible studies we had, but it seemed like he came because he felt compelled. Trying to have a serious conversation with him was like pulling teeth,” said Mike Gatton ‘12, who helped lead the studies as a campus minister for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Eventually Votipka opened up and was exposed to the radical idea of God’s unconditional love. With this revelation, the seed was planted for a metamorphosis in Votipka’s belief system. He calls it a “holy crap” moment.

After his freshman year, Votipka went to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, for Summer Beach Project, organized by the campus ministry organization Campus Outreach. For eight weeks Votipka participated in ministry, held a full-time job and did community service. “They pound in knowledge about the Bible,” he said. But this was not the biblical understanding he grew up learning at home, but the radical notion of God’s complete and unmerited love.
Votipka points to a passage from the book of Isaiah as an instance of God’s unconditional love.

“But Zion said, ‘The Lord has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me.’ Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.” (Is. 49:14-16)

Votipka previously believed the verse meant God held believers in His hands only so long as they retained His favor through good deeds. “But once you’re saved…we will sin, but God will bring us back,” Votipka said of his new understanding. After the summer in Myrtle Beach, Votipka realized he may be living a good life, but not the right life.

Following Beach Project, Votipka increased his involvement in Christian-oriented activities over the next few years. Every winter Votipka attended a Campus Outreach New Year’s Conference where he heard various pastors and fellowshipped with students from across the region. “This was where things really started going,” said Votipka. Gatton agreed, noting by Votipka’s third year the transformation was evident.

“There are a lot of guys who are like ‘poof,’ my whole eyes are open,” Votipka said. “But things started revealing themselves more and more to me.” Votipka did not experience an instant change, but gradually shed old beliefs to form a new ideology.

Erik Meiler '16 (l), Turner Votipka '15 (r)
Head coach Dave McCain calls Votipka a ‘grinder.’ His game is not flashy, but relentless, predicated on keeping the ball in play and forcing opponents to make mistakes. “His work ethic transfers to the other players,” said McCain. That’s partly why Votipka is the team captain.

Votipka is a leader in other ways as well and received one of 2015 Guilford’s Nereus C. English Athletic Leadership Awards, the school’s top athletics honor. It is not only his work ethic that transfers, but his religious ethic as well. He began a Bible study on campus and embraced church life as a member of Friendly Hills Church in nearby Jamestown. Now Votipka helps organize church events like a lock-in for youth and is president of Guilford’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapter. “He has definitely grown in his maturity and has realized the unique opportunity he has to impact others in this time and season of life,” says Dave Walters, a fellow church member and Guilford’s sports information director.

“I’m no longer doing things so I get a benefit,” said Votipka, “but I’m doing them for God and getting joy and happiness from it.” As a leader and student-athlete this mindset is crucial. Gatton says Votipka isn’t a preacher, per se, but leads by example.

“You have to learn to love the people you’re leading and do whatever for them,” said Votipka. “Whether that’s yelling at them to get straight or sacrificing your time to go out of your way to do something.” McCain says the biggest change he has witnessed in Votipka is his growing leadership skills.

“Every [tennis] match is not an end, but a journey. Something to enjoy,” said Votipka.

The same ultimatum applies to spiritual matters as well. He says he worshipped tennis at one time in his life, but he’s found more fun and purpose following God, which is good news for tennis rackets everywhere.

-by Jacob Kapp '15

Friday, April 3, 2015

Focus and Precision Help Keene Master Draw Control and More

Eleanora Keene has accomplished much in her illustrious career at Guilford College. She holds top-10 positions in Guilford’s lacrosse history in points, goals, ground balls, and caused turnovers—all by the end of her junior year. The midfielder is a three-time all-region and all-league performer. She may be remembered most by her command of the draw control, a category in which she currently ranks sixth all-time in NCAA Division III history. The same tenacity that drives her in lacrosse feeds her off-field exploits.

Sports were unavoidable for Keene growing up. She hails from an athletic family that includes a cousin who played lacrosse for the United States National Team. This environment is a large reason why lacrosse head coach Sarah Lamphier calls Keene, “An unbelievably consistent athlete.” Despite her lineage, she did not originally intend to play a sport in college.

Although Guilford was one of Keene’s first choices, she was not totally set on playing lacrosse here. “On moving day, my dad found the [former] lacrosse coach and brought him to my dorm,” she recalls. Keene says deep down she knew she was always going to play lacrosse, it just took some prompting.

Keene didn’t expect to dominate the play used to start the women’s game at both halves and after goals. Now a magician at the draw control, Keene never assumed that role before college. She often lines up against her opponent at midfield with the ball carefully placed between the two sticks by an official. When the whistle blows, the players hurl the ball into the air and Keene usually comes up with the important possession.

“Each draw is an opportunity to have control of the game,” says Keene. “If you win the draw and you have a competent attack, you will score and control the pace of the game.” She says the importance of the draw control is second only to the scoreboard.

The number-one rule of winning the draw? “Never take your eye off the ball!” says Keene. Most people stare at the referee for the cue, but Keene’s eyes are locked on the ball. Boxing out, timing and predicting the ball’s direction are also important guidelines to a successful draw control. It doesn’t hurt that Keene stands 5-foot-7, which usually makes her one of the game’s taller players.

“All aspects of lacrosse are physically tiring, but the draw for me is more mental,” says Keene. Thorough concentration and mental toughness are necessary to master the draw control. “Each one is basically another beginning and you have to bring the same energy and focus to each one to be successful.”

Keene calls getting into “the zone” the most critical mental element of winning the draw control. She drops into this mindset often as an art major. Keene describes both painting and playing lacrosse as getting on a roll. “On the field, I get that runner’s high. You don’t get tired. You’re on a different level,” she says.

Keene is a perfectionist. “I get this itch to get things finished,” she says. This approach has certainly paid off in lacrosse. If the ball is on the ground or unpossessed Keene is not satisfied until it is in her crosse. “Nora has always been consistent since freshman year and has been breaking records almost every year since then,” says teammate Anna Howard. Keene’s teammates joke that her stick is a magic wand given how excellent she is at fielding the ball. “She helps us win and be successful from the draw,” says Lamphier.

Keene could have attended an NCAA Division I school. She decided not to when family members showed her how consuming the sport could be at that level. “I wanted to do art, I wanted to travel and have other friends outside of lacrosse,” says Keene.

Keene realized that she had to unleash her passions after studying the first semester of her junior year in Indonesia. “It was so significant and so challenging I wondered why I didn’t just do what I wanted do,” she says. Keene set on following her dreams and vowed to never hold back as a lacrosse player, student or artist.

As she nears the end of her Guilford career Keene looks forward to one day opening her own art gallery in trendy Santa Fe, New Mexico. If she applies the same precision and focus she has as a student and athlete, she will undoubtedly find success beyond Guilford.

- Jacob Kapp ‘15

Friday, March 27, 2015

Faculty Athletics Mentors Work Behind the Scenes for Quakers' Student-Athletes

“Athletes are students first,” says Craig Eilbacher. Guilford’s Faculty Athletics Representative plays a key role along with the school’s faculty advisers to enrich a Guilford student-athlete’s college experience and provide the best education possible.

Eilbacher, a professor of sports medicine at Guilford, is responsible for communicating with the athletic director, serving on search committees for hiring coaches, dealing with NCAA regulations, solving issues student-athletes have with coaches, and maintaining the balance between coaches, faculty and athletes.

Eilbacher describes himself as an arbitrator and mediator. He believes the biggest problem student-athletes face is time management. Figuring out how to plan out one’s day ties into the tricky situations presented by scheduling conflicts with athletics and academics.  “I push athletes to have an open line of communication with the faculty,” he says. Eilbacher says this medium of exchange helps prevent clashes arising from various tournaments and rescheduling conflicts. When athletes are unable to reach solutions with their professors, Eilbacher steps in to reach consensus.   

Eilbacher says student-athletes are not just jocks. “Guilford’s campus is very vibrant,” he says, listing various activities such as theater, art and clubs. Eilbacher encourages student-athletes to branch out and embrace these aspects of campus life. “Whether you are a student, or a student-athlete, you represent Guilford College with distinction.”  

If Eilbacher addresses issues at the institutional level, faculty advisers cater to individual concerns.

Garland Granger (right) is one such faculty adviser. His tenure began as an observer attending baseball practices to watch his nephew. The Guilford accounting professor quickly developed relationships with other baseball players. When head baseball coach Nick Black ‘02 subsequently asked Granger to take on a new role, he became much more than an observer. He became a faculty adviser—or, as Granger likes to call it, a mentor.

Granger is not the school’s only faculty adviser. Their ranks also include Guilford faculty members Heather Hayton, Kyle and Erin Dell, Barbara Lawrence and numerous others who personalize the student-athlete’s college experience. As Granger puts it, “Faculty advisers bridge the gap between athletics and academics.” 
The impact of faculty advisers is both big and small.

Basketball player Will Koppenhaver prepared to transfer after his freshman year. When Hayton (left), the team’s faculty adviser, asked Koppenhaver for one more semester, the power forward listened. In the year that followed, he traveled to the Himalayas as part of a study abroad program and became a better student with Hayton’s help. Koppenhaver will graduate from Guilford this May and started all 26 games in his senior season

Faculty advisers also help in more nuanced ways. Granger recalls when first basemen Chuck Noble struggled to hit the baseball. Granger, who previously played tennis, told Noble to focus on his technique. “When you get up to the plate, take three deep breaths,” Granger said. “What that does is force your muscles to relax.” In the next few games, Noble piled the stat sheet. Days later, Granger received a note from the first baseman, “Thanks for the advice.”

Black says Granger assists students who are unable or afraid of building a bridge with faculty themselves. These relationships can help address any academic-related issue: professors, exams, expectations or life beyond Guilford. 

“The role mostly involves being a sounding board, adviser and resource for the team as they navigate through Guilford,” says Kyle Dell, adviser to the soccer team. Advisers also fulfill a role for student-athletes that coaches cannot. “Coaches aren’t on the academic side of things,” says Black, “so we aren’t able to bridge that gap.” Faculty advisers fill this void for student-athletes by maximizing the educational opportunities Guilford offers.

Faculty advisers have a unified goal. “My greatest gift with students is to instill courage,” says Granger. He says the faculty adviser’s role is to stand beside student-athletes and push them towards improvement while also aiding them in the trials of being both a student and an athlete. “As someone that came through a small liberal arts college myself,” says Dell (right), “I know how important it can be to have personal connections throughout one's different roles in college--as a student, as an athlete, as a leader of a club or even just as a person.” What Dell, and other faculty advisers do, is attempt to establish that connection.

Granger says he stumbled into the opportunity to become faculty adviser. The Dells were offered the job by head soccer coach Jeff Bateson. The three established a relationship during club soccer events. Thanks to the longtime assistance recently retired professor Kathy Adams provided as adviser, Bateson realized the role’s importance for student-athletes.

“This is a position I really wanted,” Eilbacher said. “[I like] working with as many people as possible to make things run smoothly.” Eilbacher relishes the challenge of finding balance between athletics and academics to make the student-athlete’s experience as fulfilling as possible.

“We want to maximize the athlete experience,” says Dave Walters, Guilford’s Sports Information Director. “But at the same time, we want athletes to be successful as students. When student-athletes leave Guilford, we know it will be their education that helps them with gainful employment.”

Faculty advisers can personalize a student-athlete’s Guilford experience and Eilbacher helps maintain an infrastructure that stimulates student success. Both build bridges for present and future endeavors of Guilford’s student-athletes. 

- by Jacob Kapp '15

Monday, March 2, 2015

Guilford's Will Koppenhaver Finds His Way On and Off the Basketball Court Through Helping Others

Frustrated, injured and disenchanted, freshman Will Koppenhaver walked into the office of basketball faculty adviser Heather Hayton. A few months into his college career, Koppenhaver’s original purpose for attending Guilford College had not panned out. He wanted to play basketball. He also liked the campus and Guilford’s strong focus on service and diversity. “If students wanted to act on something that they felt strongly about, then they could,” Koppenhaver said. But being relegated to the bench for the Quakers’ basketball team and unable to find a worthwhile community, Koppenhaver felt anything but empowered.

“Give me one more semester,” Hayton asked the disgruntled 6’6’’ power forward that day in her office. Koppenhaver sat across from the English professor pondering his decision on whether to transfer. He heeded her request.

Now, over two years later, Koppenhaver has concluded his Guilford basketball career after starting all 27 of the team’s games as a senior. He is ready to don the cap and gown with his fellow Guilford seniors this May. Getting to this point, however, was a quest of self-discovery where Koppenhaver exited his comfort zone and came to grips with his dreams of helping people.

Koppenhaver was born in Durham, North Carolina but relocated multiple times until he landed in Boone, North Carolina where his father teaches English at Appalachian State University. Throughout his youth he followed in his mother’s footsteps with involvement in Habitat for Humanity. “I am all about empowerment in the instances of service to others—especially for the good of others,” Koppenhaver said. Now, his post-graduation plans are in motion: Koppenhaver wants to join AmeriCorps—even if it means being paid on the poverty line. His goals crystallized when Koppenhaver struck the balance of student and athlete with Hayton’s help.

Hayton recalls the moment when Koppenhaver first approached her. He was frustrated and aggravated in his body posture. She wanted to find him a community outside of basketball where he could find direction. “As a mom, I immediately fell in love with him,” said the diminutive Hayton. “Here was a giant who wore his heart on his sleeve.” 

The first step towards Koppenhaver’s self-discovery was enrolling in Guilford’s Honors program and getting accepted into the school’s Principled Problem Solving Program. The Center for Principled Problem Solving cultivates students who possess the knowledge and moral values to tackle complex social problems and effect positive change. Koppenhaver was a good fit for the program.

Koppenhaver took a break from basketball for his sophomore season. “I think I needed to be 
away from the team,” he said. “I had a negative attitude.” During his time away from the team, Koppenhaver expanded his horizons by participating in non-profit endeavors like building houses and even planning a hip-hop concert. The biggest step, however, happened during a study abroad trip to Sikkim, India, during in the summer of 2013.

“I wanted him to go to India because it’d be good for him,” Hayton said. “But, second of all, so I could help direct him for the next stage in his life.” Koppenhaver did not expect to be the sole male in a group of nine females, including Hayton. With car rides lasting up to five hours, India was a reckoning experience in more ways than one for someone used to male-dominated circles. For a month Koppenhaver did historical and cultural studies about Sikkim and the surrounding area. He also participated in a variety of service projects aimed at helping the local populace.

“I know it sounds cliché, but it was life-changing,” Koppenhaver said. “It was humbling to see how other people live without iPhones and TVs—all the materialistic things we Americans take for granted.” Koppenhaver realized that he did not have to help everyone, and that people can live differently than him. Hayton noted Koppenhaver was finally able to get out of his own head and see the world from a different perspective. That revelation did not change his desire to help people, but reinforced it.

Being unable to change everything reignited Koppenhaver’s desire to play basketball. This came in spite of four months recovering from a torn meniscus at the end of his freshman year. Now a junior on the team, Koppenhaver was transformed. “Will is a great team player who is willing to sacrifice his personal stats and goals for the good of the team,” said coach Tom Palombo of the now-senior.

But that statement was not always true, hence the visit to Hayton’s office. Now a regular starter, “It’s nice to be sore after games,” Koppenhaver said. After his visit to India, Koppenhaver became more patient and overcame his anger and frustration, which helped both on the court and in shaping his career.

“Heather gave me a bunch of options, and that was the big turning point in my personal and academic life,” Koppenhaver said. If it were not for individuals like Hayton and others, Koppenhaver would no longer be at Guilford. “Through her I realized all the things Guilford offers.”

When Koppenhaver walks to the commencement stage in May, he says he will be thinking about how he took advantage of everything Guilford offered. “I didn’t make any mistakes, but just had lessons to be learned,” he said. Eventually Koppenhaver wants to pursue a master’s in business and continue to find ways to help people through non-profit endeavors.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Guilford Alum Plays for Spanish National Baseball Team

Fearless, prepared, passionate.” These are the characteristics Guilford’s baseball coach Nick Black ’02 says define his former player, Borja Jones Berasaluce ‘14. These qualities helped Jones Berasaluce as a four-year starting pitcher for the Quakers from 2010-2014, but would they help him represent his heritage as a pitcher for Spain’s national baseball team? Would they help him realize what he wants to do after earning his degree in sport management?

Borja Jones Berasaluce '14
Born in Newton, Massachusetts, to Thomas Jones and Ana Berasaluce, Jones Berasaluce gained Spanish citizenship through his mother. As a youth, Jones Berasaluce and his family visited Spain often—becoming as much Spanish as he was American. “He always took his Spanish heritage very seriously,” Black said. Following an extended hiatus from the country, Jones Berasaluce fulfilled his yearning to return as a graduation present in the summer of 2014.

While in Spain, Jones Berasaluce could not stay away from baseball after Guilford. He tried out for a local semi-professional team and earned a spot as a pitcher. Then he got lucky. The Spanish national coach attended one of his games to scout an opposing player. Instead, Jones Berasaluce caught the coach’s eye. When asked to play for Spain, “Of course I said yes,” Jones Berasaluce recalled. “When you get an opportunity like that, it’s just something you can’t pass up.”

In the following months, Jones Berasaluce played at various locations on his way to pitching for Spain in the 2014 European Baseball Championship. “An incredible jump,” he called it compared to his pitching days in Massachusetts and North Carolina. His first stop was Italian baseball week in a stadium near Venice, where he helped his team to victory against the Czech Republic and Italy. After this week of preparation, qualifying games for the championship began in Brno, Czech Republic. Spain’s success there allowed it to reach the championship series in Ostrava, Czech Republic. Here Jones Berasaluce experienced what he called a “reality check.”

In a quarterfinal game versus the Netherlands, Jones Berasaluce took the mound in relief with his team trailing 12-8. The bases were loaded. “I threw a great pitch in my mind,” Jones Berasaluce said, “and a big, chubby lefty-hitter put it right out of the park.” It was a reality check because Jones Berasaluce realized he may have got too caught up in the moment. “To [the Netherlands], it was just another game.”

The moment, the pinnacle of his baseball career, caused Jones Berasaluce to reassess his dreams. Along the journey to making the Spanish team, he played alongside teammates who signed with major-league teams as teenagers out of Latin American nations, but were later released. “Seeing these guys who were signed, maybe played a few years and were dropped, they don’t have an education to fall back on.”

Jones Berasaluce’s now sees an opportunity to perhaps help players like his Spanish teammates. “With my ability to speak Spanish, sometime in the foreseeable future I see myself going to law school.” And of course, the type of law of interest involves baseball. The most desirable scenario, according to Jones Berasaluce, would be contract law, where he aids Spanish-speaking teenagers find their way to the big leagues.

“I understand playing baseball won’t be the rest of my career,” says Jones Berasaluce, “but if I can watch it and be around it every day, I’d love to do that.”

2015 Spanish National Baseball Team

by Jacob Kapp ‘15