No matter where I’m playing or the level of the game I’m involved in, I’ve always tried to never take it for granted.
Growing up in Buford, Georgia, I had a love for Tech and wanted to be around the program, but I never dreamed I’d have the opportunity to play here. Honestly, until I got into high school, I thought it was silly for me to even think about playing in college.
And really, until I started to work with former Major Leaguer, Michael Barrett, I wasn’t even sure that baseball was my main sport.
Then, as a freshman, I started to see I might have an opportunity to keep playing if I stuck with it.
Receiving a few offers, I was honored at having the opportunity to continue my baseball career. And this also helped with getting some attention from Tech.
For a few years, I had been playing ball with Coach Hall’s son, so once his staff got word that UGA had offered me, I had an invite to a basketball game to come see what Tech was all about.
Officially on campus for the first time, it wasn’t hard for me to make a decision.
Surrounded by a few of my other high school teammates, I was blown away by the program and the feel of campus.
The work that my recruiter, former assistant coach, and Tech catcher Brian Prince, had put in along with the relationships I was already building with the rest of the coaching staff, left me one step closer to knowing I wanted to be a Yellow Jacket.
I know a lot of guys struggle with the process, but for me, the tough part wasn’t choosing a school, but if I was going to attend school at all.
Waiting around during the 2015 MLB Draft, I honestly wasn’t sure where I would end up. Obviously, every kid dreams of being drafted by a professional team, but I knew how great of an opportunity I still had up at Tech.
Ultimately, I felt blessed to be selected by the Tampa Bay Rays, but I knew I needed to head off to college.
It was a family decision, one where I knew my value and more importantly the value we saw in getting an education at one of the best schools in the country.
Man, was that decision a blessing.
Heading off for my first year, I now set my sights on earning my spot on the roster. I didn’t care that I was just drafted or had been highly recruited, I wanted to prove to my team that I deserved to share the field with them.
By the start of the season, I had worked my way into splitting time with one of our senior leaders at catcher, but I still felt like I had more to prove.
I was happy to have earned a spot, but I wanted to make the most out of my decision to come to school. So in the offseason, I set my goals even higher.
Coming in that second year in 2017, even as I knew the starting job was all mine, I didn’t look at it any differently. Just because I had success my first year, didn’t mean I had proved myself.
With each day, I felt like I had a new opportunity to earn my spot once again and lead with my effort.
And honestly, that has been my approach to each step of my career.
Sometimes, it might be easy to think we have earned something, or that you’ve put in enough effort, but I try to remember that there is always some area I can get my game to the next level.
Whether it’s working on my defensive side as a catcher or tweaking my swing during my work up in the Cape with Coach Jerry, I want to keep earning my spot through my work, determination, and efforts.
Looking back on my time here so far, I’m so thankful for making the decision to come to Georgia Tech. The amount I’ve learned living in the Atlanta area and being a college student, I couldn’t have found anywhere else.
But no matter where I end up going forward, I plan to take that Tech mentality with me. Whether it’s helping our team compete in the ACC or playing at the next level, I’m always going to work to earn my spot.
Joey Bart | Contributor