MANDY HONG — Transitioning from high school sports to the collegiate level can often pose a challenge. Many athletes come in unsure of what the season will hold. How much work is there? What is the team like? What is the balance between homework and a sport as both get more intense?

What goes through an athletes mind before their first college season?

“I started playing baseball when I was three years old with my dad in the backyard, and I’ve been playing baseball for my whole life since then. I love baseball,” said Robert Reynolds ‘22, a pitcher and environmental studies major from Washington D.C.

He decided on attending Denison because of the baseball team and wanted to attend a liberal arts college just like his parents did, as it made an impression when he first visited.

“I started playing baseball when I was kid and had a passion for it. A big part of choosing Denison was baseball, but I also liked this school a lot when I first visited,” said Dylan Hunter ‘22, first baseman and economics major from Washington D.C. He likes being in Ohio, where he says people are nice and the scenery is beautiful.

Hunter and Reynolds are current roommates at Denison, but they knew each other from high school as well. Now, they take on the challenge being student athletes together.

So far, both are enjoying college before the season ramps up. Even though they had lots of work to do academically and athletically in the pre-season, they are getting used to life as college students.

Reynolds notes that this is a big transition, and everything is new and overwhelming. However, after a couple of weeks, both started to settle into their respective routines.

According to Hunter, the key is to balance everything. He chose to take classes he is interested in and knew that he just had to get used to practices until he finally can manage both.

One thing is clear before this season officially starts: the freshmen love their team already.

“When our team pushes each other to do well, even when we are just doing weight lifting, we get to accomplish something as a team. I feel proud of being a member of Denison baseball,” Hunter said.

Reynolds added on, “I expected to be spending a lot of time with my team when I got to college, and I wasn’t wrong. We do spend a lot of time together and I really like it,” Reynolds said.

It is almost the end of the first-ever college semester for freshmen. For Denison baseball, spring season is when the team really gets involved in games and more intense practices. While the challenge for fall athletes is figuring out balancing the season and academics right away, the challenge for spring athletes is switching up your schedule just as you are getting used to it.

“Pre-season went well. First, I struggled a little bit pitching but I definitely get better as the season went on which is what I was hoping for: to show improvement because that’s what practice is for. I made a bunch of friends through the baseball team and I’m really excited for the spring,” Reynolds said. His goal for the spring season is to have an opportunity to pitch. “I know there’s bunch of pitchers on team. There’s competition for who is going to pitch. When I get that opportunity, I want to pitch well and throw a bunch of strikes!”

Hunter mentioned pre-season also went really well for him. He had fun practicing with the team and looks forward to spring season. He hopes that his team does really well and wins as many games as they can next spring.

Like every other freshmen at Denison, they also came to college with a lot of goals that they want to achieve throughout their next four years.

“I want to graduate and I think it’s a big one,” Reynolds laughed. “Honestly, I want to learn as much as I can, especially toward the things that I’m most interested in. Four years is a long way and I hope to find my true passions and interests.”

“I want to be the best athlete and student combined. I want to explore things that I like and make a lot of memories,” Hunter said.

Baseball does not have their first game until February 23, but these freshmen are poised to start when the season does roll around.