Balancing a varsity sport with schoolwork, transferring schools, and dealing with injuries can all be very difficult things to cope with. For junior third baseman Nick Flair, these are some of the obstacles he has faced so far in his college career.
He has played for three different schools over the past three seasons, but he seems to have found a permanent home here at UT.
It was a long road, but the story all began when Flair was four years old and started playing baseball. He went on to have an outstanding high school career in Louisiana, where he received all types of honors and distinctions in his home state.
Soon it was time to leave high school and go to college, where Flair had signed to play for Mississippi State University.
Unfortunately, injuries hampered his freshman year, so he chose to redshirt and gain an extra year of eligibility, since he would have missed most of the season by the time his injuries would have healed. The following season, he remained at Mississippi State. But after being unhappy with his playing time, he decided to transfer to Gulf Coast State College, a junior school in Panama City.
For his junior season, he decided to come to the University of Tampa despite some offers from Division I programs. His main reason for this being the coaching staff and the chance to win a national championship.
“I’ve heard from numerous people that Coach Urso and Coach Sam are the best there are and when I met them I knew it was a perfect fit,” Flair said.
His career as a Spartan started in the best way possible, with the team being ranked No. 1 nationally with a 13-1 record. Additionally, he had the chance to play and defeat the Philadelphia Phillies in an exhibition game. For Flair and his teammates, this was an unforgettable experience.
“We got to see the best pitchers and position players in the game right now and actually see how we compared to them in size, skill and strength,” Flair said.
Flair also acknowledged that the game was not only about gaining experience, but that the Spartans would do their best to try and win.
“We had the mindset of going in there to play our hardest and make a name for the University of Tampa, and I think having beaten them may have gotten the university some more recognition I hope,” Flair said.
Currently ranked second nationally with a 24-7 overall record and a 7-2 conference record, the Spartans are aiming to do exactly what Flair had hoped for when he first came here, which is to win the national title. “It’s all about the team and as a team we are focused on winning a championship. We have to take it one game at a time and if we do that and give everything we have, I think we’ll be successful,” Flair said.
Flair has been a key contributor this season, having started in all 31 games for UT. Aside from being an integral part of the team’s infield, he is also one of the best hitters. He leads the team in hits with 49, RBIs with 41 and doubles with 12. He also has a batting average of .395, six home runs and a triple.
Though he still has next year to look forward to, Nick is hoping to be able to continue playing the sport he loves after graduating. “If I get the opportunity to keep playing after I graduate, I’d definitely continue playing,” Flair said.
Andrew Stamas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.