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home : sports : sports   April 29, 2016

8/14/2014 10:28:00 AM
Kowalczyk: Taking advantage of opportunity


Karch Kowalczyk
Correspondent



Editor’s note: This is the first installment of a column written by former La Salle-Peru baseball star Karch Kowalczyk on his experiences in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization.

First off, before I go ahead and start talking about myself and my baseball experiences, I have some thanking to do.

My family and friends have stood by my side from day one, always providing me with encouragement and support as I put in the work to reach where I am today. I cannot thank them enough for that.

I also would like to thank the community for its support as well, whether that be expressed through direct contact with me or through my family. It is pretty cool to hear that people are interested in how I am doing.

I hope to continue to put forth the hard work and effort to ensure that good news continues to roll in.

If one word could define my road to receiving an opportunity to play professional baseball, it would be perseverance. I do not want to bore anyone with crazy detail, so I will keep it as brief as possible.

My whole life I dreamed of playing pro baseball. Just about every year in school from second grade on I was asked what I wanted to do with my life, and the answer never changed. The dream started to seem like an attainable goal to me personally during my late high school and early college years.

I was fortunate enough to be blessed with physical talent, but the turning point for me was when I realized just how much work I needed to put in to ensure continued improvement. Injuries were the catalyst for that realization.

I battled through a few injuries in college, some more severe than others, but each one forced me to question whether I wanted to continue to strive toward the goal of pro baseball. My rehab helped me develop the focus and determination I needed to take the next step in my development.

Throughout this whole process, my parents, teammates, friends, and coaches played a huge role in keeping me on track.

All of the ups and downs brought me to my fifth year of college. I had high expectations going in, and I feel like I had a solid year both academically and athletically. Something that was never lost in the shuffle was academics, and I will preach that importance to any future collegiate athlete out there.

After what seemed like the quickest year of my life, I found myself playing the waiting game once draft time came around.

Thirty-five rounds out of 40 had passed, so naturally I was a bit worried that my opportunity would not come.

However, during a conversation with my mom about what the next step in my life would be without baseball, I was introduced to a rush of emotion after reading my coach’s text. The Dodgers had drafted me, and a dream had been realized. I was excited and beyond thankful for the upcoming opportunity.

Since that Saturday, I have played in both the Arizona League and the Pioneer league. Currently, I am playing for the Ogden Raptors based out of Utah.

I have learned a lot since the start of the summer, and I am trying to absorb as much as I can while playing in these short season leagues.

I have had strong outings of relief pitching and I have also had ones where I was slapped around a little bit. The best thing about baseball though, is that tomorrow is a fresh slate and a new game.

Just being drafted does not leave me satisfied, so I know my work ethic has to grow even more to elevate myself further in the game of baseball. I look forward to that challenge.

I hope everyone back home is having a great summer, and I hope I have some excitement to share in the future.

Karch Kowalczyk can be reached at sports@newstrib.com.










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