From Home School To Division 1 – More Than a Game.

This week in Around The Horn, I got to sit down with Division 1 talent at Lipscomb University, David Graves.

With the MLB season behind us and the Nationals still celebrating, I looked to take a different step to the plate this week by catching up with a good friend and ballplayer in David Graves.

David is a Senior Division 1 baseball player at Lipscomb University with a Major in Theology while studying alongside his athletics.

I have known David for the last two years now as I go through my Sophomore year, so before I get into David, and his backstory, I would just like to say thank you to David for sitting with me and for being a stand-up guy. Hard-working, dedicated, and a man of great stature; thank you, David.

“Consistency Is Everything”

David is a hometown and homeschooled guy whose dream was just like every other kid in the backyard, to be a Major League Baseball player. Coming from Waxhaw, North Carolina, David went from a homeschool high school team to Junior College Catawba Valley. At a height of six feet, two inches, and 196 pounds he proves a versatile talent at the hot corner.

David has always had the stars in his eyes to be the best player, teammate, and friend on and off the field, while also being a fierce competitor.

In talking to him he said, “The goal wasn’t necessarily ever to be a Division 1 ballplayer, but to be a Major League Baseball player, yknow? I grew up watching the guys like Derrick Jeter, Big Papi {David Ortiz}…”

David has always been a guy with the love of the game of baseball that seemed to leave him in the backyard also hitting the home run to win the game in the bottom of the 9th in Game 7 of the imaginary World Series. Even in sitting with him, his passion for the game and more importantly his teammates and everyone around him.

David talked about his high school playing days and in a reach out to any high school ballplayer that may be reading this, he said: “LIFT EARLY, me now would blow high school me OUT of the WATER,” describing himself as a freshman in high school, “I was like a baby deer.”

Well David, you sure have sprouted to a Young Buck now at the Division 1 level. In past times talking with David’s teammates about the team as a whole, who competes in the Atlantic Sun Conference, his teammates are nothing but quick to talk of his pure hitting ability and ease on the field as well with how versatile he is.

If you would like to read an amazing article about A-SUN alum in the MLB, I recommend this read which headlines both Jacob Degromm and Corey Kluber (MLB and the A-SUN).

When asking David about his most valuable lesson learned to this point in his playing career he was very quick to tell me a few easy lessons we should all take into life.

He rifled off, “Just have fun with it, and don’t take it too seriously” he continued, “I look back on my high school playing days and if there is one thing I would tell myself it would be that.”

The next thing David said seemed to highlight the remainder of our time speaking as he told me, “Consistency is key, you have to learn to fail and that is the game of baseball. It can be a snowball effect, there is more than baseball, but it starts with being consistent in mind.”

David went on about his team, “I won’t be doing this next year regardless (considering this is his final year of eligibility) at this level, enjoying this time now with my guys and being present because this is a one-time thing.”

Well, David, you speak to more than just the game of baseball.

Unsure of what the path looks like after his final year with Lipscomb and the NCAA this season, I was able to talk with David about his plans after graduation and baseball this year.

“The dream is to of course keep playing at the next level, but that is all in a time and a place” he sorted out for me.

In the long term coaching is something I would really love to do at the high school or college level” in speaking to his passion behind that he said, “we have all had bad coaches who make us want to coach, then we have had GREAT coaches who make us want to coach even more.”

Lipscomb is coached by a man I have had the opportunity to speak with on separate occasions, Jeff Forehand, who David spoke about saying, “Coach Forehand has told us that for most of us, it is about preparing us in how to be respectful men who have jobs, family, kids and go on to live life after the game of baseball.”

David said, “I want to share what I’ve learned with others.”

The Game of Baseball and the Game of Life:

As we finished our time together, David was open to sharing a verse for him that has seemed to highlight his career and spot this far telling me:

“I got a bracelet from my sister with 2nd Corinthians 12:9 on it which says, ‘But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.’ 

David, thank you for sitting down with me and sharing in your story. He told me to give a huge shoutout to the girls who work at a food spot on Lipscomb University’s campus at Au Ban Pan (ABP as we call it for short).

This is for the ladies making this man the proper sandwiches he neds every day, so this goes out to Latoya, Ms. Brenda, Ope, and Meme (sounds just like Meemee).

The game of baseball goes more than jersey deep for David Graves in his mindset, faith, and interaction with others. And to a guy who is always and consistently moving in a way of faith towards the kingdom of heaven on or off the field, you are a true example.

David Graves ladies in gentlemen, the kinda guy I want my kids to play for one day.

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