“A big adjustment”

Freshman earns a spot on the varsity baseball team


Photo by Khloe Smith

Paul VanDam (12) takes a lead after getting a double against Haslett on April 11.

Baseball has been a part of Paul VanDam’s (9) life for as long as he can remember. He can remember all the way back to playing in first grade, when the umpire made a bad call. He was upset with the call, and as a six-year-old yelled at him from the dugout.

“I think some parents and others didn’t really appreciate [me yelling at him],” VanDam said. 

VanDam played his first varsity game of the season on April 11. He played at third base for most of the game, where he fielded some ground balls. This was his first time playing with athletes who were older and more experienced, which was a big change from his summer baseball team he participated in. 

“I’d say I struggled a little bit batting, but it was a big adjustment from playing against younger guys, so I’m gonna work on it,” VanDam said. “It was definitely hard adjusting to the faster pitches and everything.”

VanDam’s teammate Nathan Hertel (12) has appreciated the extra addition to the team to help them throughout the season. Since Hertel plays in the outfield, he has not had much time to work with VanDam during practice, but he is still able to observe improvements that he is making. 

“He’s pretty much shown that [he will be successful on varsity]. I think he just has to get comfortable and the more comfortable he is with it [the better he will be able to perform],” Hertel said. “You can tell he’s nervous, he’s a freshman out there on varsity.”

With the support of his teammates VanDam hopes to have greater success on the field. After he completes high school, he hopes to play baseball at the college level. His biggest supporters when it comes to baseball are his parents, and they have led him to this point in his athletic career.

“My parents just signed me up [for baseball when I was younger], they were putting me in a bunch of different sports and baseball has always been the one that I’ve loved the most, I’ve always enjoyed it,” VanDam said. 

The slow pace of the game is a factor that makes baseball fun for VanDam. He enjoys being able to relax and have fun during the game, rather than dealing with the stress that comes from other sports like basketball. He also enjoys socializing with his teammates and working together with them towards success.

“I’m starting to get more comfortable with [my teammates], they’re all really nice to me and are helping me get a feel for how things run up here [on varsity],” VanDam said. 

Even with the ability to play on a varsity team, a lot of freshmen are still pushed down to lower teams. Varsity is usually an upperclassmen level of athletics since they are more experienced, but very talented lower classmen are able to reach for a spot on these teams. 

“I wasn’t really expecting to make varsity, but I knew I had the talent to and I just had to prove it, so I went out there and did my thing,” VanDam Said