It’s been almost two years since Ty Barclay last was a member of the Great Lake Canadians program, and in that time he’s begun a successful collegiate career at Garden City Community College as he continues to forge his path in the game.
When this season – his second – with the Broncbusters comes to an end and Barclay graduates from Garden City, the young catcher will head to Emporia State University to continue his collegiate climb, joining the Hornets as he moves forward in his career.
“I came down here and didn’t quite know what to expect,” Barclay said of Garden City. “Honestly, within a couple weeks I got into a groove like I did back home, and everything started to mesh. I figured out that it was just baseball, just like back home, and after that point I could start to relax and have fun…
“I did and I didn’t think it was going to be everything it has been so far. I didn’t quite know what to expect coming down here, and it’s been a lot of fun. At first, it was kind of a whirlwind, and looking back, my freshman year flew by really fast, but everything has been a lot of fun.”
With his days in the Great Lake organization coming to an end, Barclay explored his collegiate options fully, taking his time to determine the most opportune spot for him as he began his forge forward.
“I honestly didn’t really know what the best fit for me was going to be,” Barclay said. “I knew I wasn’t going to be a D-I guy out of high school, and I had come to terms with that in my own head. After a couple of visits, I thought to myself that I was going to play at a D-I in my freshman year, so I started looking at JUCOs. I came across Garden City, and they’re a team that won a lot in the Jayhawk Conference, and I knew the conference was pretty good from [former GLC teammate] Dalton Harvey.
“It clicked from there. I sent them an email and they got back to me a couple months later and I went on my visit. I liked everything [head coach Chris Finnegan] had to say and he didn’t sugarcoat anything. He told me I would come in, have an opportunity to play, and couldn’t promise me a starting job or anything, but that it would be me and a couple other kids fighting for a spot behind the dish. That was all I could really ask for.”
Barclay’s time with the Broncbusters, as he headed into his second opening weekend on Friday – going 2-for-3 with a single, double, and a walk in the team’s first game – has been everything he asked for, and more.
“I love the reputation we have in the Jayhawk,” Barclay said. “It’s always been known as a hard-nosed, grinder-type school, and under Coach Finnegan, we try to develop a culture that’s unique to this conference. Everybody put the target on our back, because we’re never really the most talented school but we always seem to find ways to win.
“That’s what he’s built the program around the last couple years, and something I take a lot of pride in. It’s one of the reasons I wanted to go to Emporia State, because they have a reputation just like it.”
Barclay’s connection to the Hornets began with a teammate, and grew through his persistence and his affinity for what he saw from the program.
“We had a pitcher from our team last year go to that school,” he said. “And in the spring, we went down to watch the team play on a weekend we had off, and I really liked what I saw out of them. They looked like a real blue-collar team, and it was a spot where I could fit in. Ever since then, they’ve been in the back of my mind as a spot I was shooting to get to. This fall, the opportunity came up, where the head coach, Coach [Bob] Fornelli, came out and watched me play, and everything fell into place from there. It was a pretty good situation.”
Barclay turned down an opportunity with the Division-I program at the University of Nebraska Omaha to pursue the opportunity at Emporia State, because he knew it was the best fit and opportunity for him.
“I felt the most comfortable,” he said. “They have a lot of JUCO transfers who come into the school, and having a bunch of guys who are coming from the same situation that I’m coming from, made it more comfortable. They’re a really successful program. They were up to to Top 10 seeding in D-II last year, and they were very close to the [NJCAA] World Series.
“They’ve been to the World Series twice in the last 10 years. UNO seemed like a really good fit, but they didn’t quit have the winning reputation over the last couple years that Emporia State has had. I wanted to go somewhere where I could finish out competing for a long time into the playoffs, and hopefully go into a World Series.”
Added GLC director of baseball operations Chris Robinson: “It’s classic Ty. He turns down a really lucrative Division-I offer to go to the best baseball fit for him. Ty is a very mature kid. He’s going to be a lifer in the game. He’s going to play for a long time, he’s going to scout, he’s going to coach, he’s going to do everything. He’s got a special place in my heart because I’ve worked with him since he was really young, and him and [his parents] Kirk and Ange mean a lot to the program. They’ve been with us since the start.
“This is a kid who was in 10th grade when we started, and he was the starting catcher on our 18U team. We didn’t even bat an eye at that; Ty had it under control. He was physically smaller than everybody and not as strong as everybody, but you took him for granted, because when a catcher is good, you don’t really notice him. They go about their business. Ty is just the poster boy for that, and he’s the type of catcher that we want to produce here.”
With a retrospective view of the Canadians program, Barclay is grateful for what he gained through his time with the organization and how it has helped him every step of the way since then.
“The biggest things that helped me from my time with GLC were developing the work ethic I needed here and learning how to compete against other guys for jobs,” he said. “Having Max Wright [currently at Indiana State University] beside me those last two years with GLC really pushed me, to help me understand how to deal with competition with guys on your own team, and at the same time helping them get better for themselves as well.”