Most college athletes have the desire to become professional athletes but only a small number actually break through and accomplish that dream.
Dustin Garneau, current member of the Los Angeles Angels and former Titan baseball player, is one of the Cal State Fullerton athletes that was able to make it past the college stage and work his way up the ranks.
Garneau was drafted by the Colorado Rockies in 2009 after playing for the Titans for four years.
“Man, the minor leagues makes a man out of you,” Garneau said. “Learning how to deal with (travel) and learning how to show up on time and be a professional is kind of on your own. There is no one looking over your shoulder, so your career is literally in your own hands.”
In major league baseball, players have to work their way through multiple levels of the organization to actually make it to the highest ranking leagues within the sport.
“There is luck involved in it. You need to be lucky enough to be put in an environment, you need to be lucky enough to do good when you get a chance and a lot of it is skill,” said CSUF baseball head coach Rick Vanderhook.
In the competitive environment of sports, it takes a lot more than just talent to make it into professional leagues.
“What you do is you need to be able to function at the highest level, off-of-the-field performance is attributed to at least 50 percent of a player’s success,” Vanderhook said.
For women’s sports, the same mentality has to be met to make it to the professional level.
The gap between each stage, from playing in high school, college and the professional leagues is separated by qualities of discipline, dedication and teamwork.
“There are a lot of good D-I players, but to get to the level after that you have to go above and beyond just being good on your team. You have to do everything, the extra inch, and that is what is going to set you apart from the other people competing at the same level as you,” said women’s basketball senior Lauren Nubla.
For Nubla, basketball runs in the family with her oldest brother being her original inspiration to start shooting hoops. After her, she is followed by her younger brother and sister who have also decided to join the sport.
Nubla’s teammate, Hannah Thompson, also has basketball in her blood with her dad and older brother also playing the game. For Thompson, the main lessons learned throughout her career are the ones off of the court.
“Things that stand out to me the most with basketball aren’t even basketball-related things. I have realized how different people really are. It is kind of fun to see the different cultures and how even though everyone on our team is very different and we are all from different places, we can all still get along off the court and have fun together,” Thompson said.
After graduating, the next step for some players is pursuing their career and pursuing higher-level education programs like law school and medical school.
The objective for college students to graduate and receive a diploma after their time with the university is something stressed by Vanderhook to all of his players.
“The most important thing is that one day they are not going to be able to play baseball, but that piece of paper that they get from going to college goes with them to their grave,” Vanderhook said.