For my dad, baseball was an escape.
Ever since he was a little boy, he has been working.
It’s all he’s ever known.
He worked long hours when I was growing up. The time we were able to spend together was limited to the weekends.
And during those weekends, we shared a bond and love for the game of baseball.
He was my first coach, and I like to joke that he must have done something right because I ended up earning a scholarship at Oklahoma to play baseball.
I’ve loved this sport my entire life, but I never saw the game through the same lens as my dad.
For me, baseball wasn’t so much of an escape as it was a launching pad.
From a young age, I knew if I kept working hard at the sport and improving through the years, I could go to college and earn a scholarship to create a great life for myself and be a role model to my younger brothers.
It’s a life my parents had in mind for their children when they immigrated to the United States from Mexico.
Don’t get me wrong, I love frozen rope singles and turning double plays as much as anybody, but it’s not what I do on the baseball field that defines me.
It’s everything baseball has given me that embodies the life I’ve been blessed with.
Without the sacrifices my parents have made and the overwhelming support of OU, I wouldn’t be a first-generation college student living out my dreams in Norman.
Breaking the Mold
When Oklahoma started recruiting me — as exciting as that process was — it was more about my family than myself.
My parents never had opportunities like this.
Truthfully, if it wasn’t for baseball, I never would have gone to college, either.
As a family, we weren’t in a position to afford this kind of education.
Baseball changed that.
When I signed with OU, man, it was such an impactful moment because it felt like we broke the mold as an entire family.
I was going to be the first person in my family to attend college, but more importantly, I was setting an example to my younger siblings that they could, too.
I carved the path for them to see that higher education is a possibility if they work hard enough to accomplish their goals and dreams.
And in all honesty, that was my biggest motivation.
In fact, it still is today.
Nothing drives me more than my family.
All about the people
In my fifth season currently at OU, I could go on and on about how much this university has supported me through the years.
I don’t think you can fully appreciate the world-class facilities and resources OU has unless you’re here to experience it yourself.
As fortunate as I’ve been to utilize these outlets in the past five years, I strongly believe it’s the people that really make the difference and bring those resources to life.
One person I’d be remiss not to mention here is one of my assistant coaches, Britt Bonneau.
Especially with my family being back home in Texas, Britt’s been like a second father to me.
What I love the most about him is he always prioritizes my goals in the classroom over the baseball field. That goes for the rest of the coaching staff as well.
From the first day I met Britt, he was in my ear about how I had to graduate before I left Norman. If I was ever feeling stressed about school, or if my grades were slipping, he’d be right there telling me I had no choice but to push through.
For Britt and the entire coaching staff, their number one goal for me was always to be the first person in my family that graduates college.
I know it’s not like that everywhere in regard to coaches valuing academics over athletics, so that just goes to show you how unique and exceptional OU is.
My coaches have influenced my life in so many different ways beyond the baseball field, and they’ve been by far my biggest resource and support system at OU.
A final season to remember
Each of my five years at OU has been meaningful beyond measure, but this final baseball season has been extra special.
When I walked across the stage this past December and earned my degree, that was such a beautiful moment to share with my family.
And while it was a first for us, it certainly won’t be a last.
Just a few weeks ago, I also had the privilege of accepting the Mitchell Whitaker Award. The award honors a player each season who displays the hard work and leadership qualities that help make OU baseball the outstanding program that it is.
To receive that award, especially with the relationship I’ve built with the Whitaker family, has been my highest honor at OU outside of my degree.
To me, it encapsulates being there for your teammates and brothers. I’ve always done my best to be someone my teammates can lean on, but I made an additional effort in my final season to help them be the best versions of themselves.
The award’s sitting in my room at this very moment, and it’ll be a great reminder long after my playing days are over about carrying myself the right way and being there to serve other people.
Leaving OU a better place
With my bachelor’s degree in hand, I’m currently in grad school working on an advanced business degree as I finish out my playing career.
When I look ahead at my plans after I leave OU, I’d love to become a DI baseball coach myself.
In fact, I look forward to sitting down with my coaches soon to pick their brains about getting into the profession.
Ultimately, I want to be just like them.
Their support and guidance has made me a better person and player in every possible way, and I’d love the opportunity to return the favor one day with my own players.
So, if there is one thing to perfectly embody the impact OU and the people here have had on my life and career, it’s me wanting to follow in my coaches’ footsteps.
They showed me a path I want to pursue in my own life.
For now, I’m going to finish strong in my final few games, and ensure I leave OU baseball a better place.
Hopefully, I’ve paved the way for others to do the same.