It was at the top of his list.
As Garner Spoljaric started to look ahead to where he might head after his tenure at Heartland Community College comes to an end, he compiled his choices, weighed his options, and Stetson University came out on top.
After his final season with the Hawks comes to an end, the native of Lisle will head to DeLand, Florida to join the Hatters, following a commitment to Stetson earlier this spring.
“This fall, we were picking our dream schools,” Spoljaric said. “And with the year Stetson was having, that was definitely the school I wanted to be at. They opened my eyes [with the best season in program history last year]. I listed them as my No. 1 and my coach sent them my information before showcases started.
“Then they either saw me at Grand Park in Indiana, or video of me there, and they reached out right before Christmas break…Into February, things started to speed up a bit and they were getting more hot on my trail. I found out a couple weeks before we went to play in Florida that I was going to visit, and they came to watch my first game down there.
“I ended up throwing pretty well, and immediately after the game I went and visited. That night, they made the offer to me.”
Though Spoljaric was already pretty intent on joining the Hatters, the right-hander’s visit to the Florida campus solidified his original thoughts.
“It was awesome,” he said. “I knew their field was really nice, and they told me when they called me, but I was definitely not expecting what they had. Their whole setup was just so much better than what I had seen previously. I was blown away when I was walking through it all. It is definitely quite the setup, so I was pretty fired up when they made the offer. I just thought, ‘Wow, there’s no way I can say no to this.’”
Spoljaric’s decision came down to a variety of factors, but the biggest one in making his final choice was the reputation of the Hatters program.
“It’s legit,” the former Great Lake Canadians pitcher said. “Dave Therneau is the pitching coach there, and he was named [Collegiate Baseball’s] National Pitching Coach of the Year last year. This is an amazing opportunity…I was blown away by the reputation of the coaching staff and their resumes, and the facilities they have are incredible.”
Excited for what’s left of his career with the Hawks, Spoljaric can’t wait for what the future holds.
“This group of guys we have right now [at Heartland] is pretty good,” he said. “I don’t know if I’ve ever been on a team with this amount of pitching, and I don’t know if there’s a better staff around right now, as far as JUCOs in the Midwest. We’re so deep. That will carry us this spring.
“And moving forward, I’m pretty fired up to get down to Stetson. I’ll have a lot of fun. Obviously getting down there and playing this fall will be a pretty awesome experience. That’s what I’m excited for.”
Written by – Alexis Brudnicki