By: Ben Abrams
Austin Upshaw (#2) is proud of the work he has put into the Jaguars since he graduated from Buford High School last year.
Upshaw made the all-region team for his senior year on the baseball team.
In his freshman year with the Jags, he’s leading the team with hits and batting average for active players.
Upshaw sat down with The Collegian to discuss his success at G.P.C, being a die-hard Atlanta Hawks fan and his obsession with Spongebob Squarepants.
The Collegian: How did you get you start playing baseball?
Austin Upshaw: “I grew up in Buford, Ga. My parents always wanted me to play baseball, and they really liked the game of baseball. They would always take me out to the yard when I was two, and we’d play with a whiffle ball bat. When I became of age to play in a league, I began to play Little League baseball at Bogan Park.”
The C: Do you come from a family of athletes?
AU: “I don’t. My dad is a plumber, and my mom is a school teacher. They liked sports; they just weren’t athletic.”
The C: When it came time to choose, why did you choose GPC?
AU: “I traveled around the Georgia JuCo world. I visited Gordon, Darton and Middle Georgia, in addition to GPC. Coach Campbell and Coach Brotherton made me feel a part of the program. I felt comfortable with them and they also gave me a good scholarships. I really liked the field and the guys on the team. So I felt like it was the place to be.”
The C: Right now the team is (25-19) and third in the GCAA standings. How does it feel to lead the team in hits and to have best batting average (.418) as a freshman in the team and region?
AU: “It felt really good considering all the work that I’ve put in during the off season. During the season, staying an hour after practice hitting with the coaches to make sure that everything was right paid off. Doing it over and over and seeing it translate on the field is an honor and really rewarding.”
The C: With the season winding down do you feel that this team is ready to win a regional or national championship?
AU: “At the beginning of the season I really didn’t think we were where we needed to be. We started the season 0-8. During the season we strived to figure out what works and where we need to be. I think we are getting to the point where it’s crunch time. I believe our players will step up, and I do believe that we have the talent we need to win the regional and national championship. We have the pieces; now we just have to do what we need to do.”
The C: After starting the season 0-8, and having a rough month in February, what got you guys to turn things around in March?
AU: “I feel like that we had a lot of freshman so the transition was tough from high school to college. We all just got along with each other. We all started to talk and get to know each other more. We started to go out together and get along better, and we became more of a team. I think it really translated to the field.”
The C: How do you feel about this being the last year of GPC sports as a freshman? Does this knowledge provide the team with any extra motivation to finish the year on a strong note?
AU: “We were all really disappointed when we found out that this would be the last year of GPC athletics and baseball. A lot us freshman had come and kept up with Georgia Perimeter before us. Once we were here we were told about the history and how well GPC has fared in baseball. It’s a real shame, because we were a top-winning program in Georgia. I feel that there is a little added pressure, because it is the last season. There is added motivation as well. We’re not doing this for ourselves; we’re doing this for GPC as well.”
The C: We noticed on your twitter page that you signed your national letter of intent on Apr. 19. Where to and why?
AU: “Kennesaw State for the same reason I went to GPC. I really like the coaches that showed me the school and made it feel like it would be a good home for me. Kennesaw State’s program has been on the rise for a while, especially since last year when they made the “Sweet Sixteen” in baseball. I feel like they’re a prominent baseball school in Georgia.”
The C: What do you want to do after you graduate from Kennesaw?
AU: “I really would like to get drafted (in the MLB draft). It’s my lifelong dream and that’s everything I worked for that what its going is towards. If I do not get drafted, I’d like to stay in baseball or teach in a high school and be a coach. I’d just like to stay in baseball.”
The C: You’re a huge Hawks fan. Did you honestly expect them to win 60 games this season?
AU: “Absolutely not. I really became a Hawks fan when I was like 12. My grandma, “Nana Ann” took me to a Hawks game every year since I was 12. So I became obsessed with the Hawks, and I’ve been watching them lose and lose and lose. But they still grabbed a playoff spot. This year has been amazing. I’m really excited.”
The C: Are the Hawks a legit contender?
AU: “I’ve been watching them this season and for the last six or seven seasons. This Hawks team is different from any team we’ve had. The media relates the Hawks to being the same team they were a few years ago. They were a fourth seed or lower for most of those years. We went 60-22 this year, and we dominated the West and the Cleveland Cavs and LeBron James. I really think this year is different, because of the mentality that Coach Budenholzer has brought to pass first and give up the good shot for the great shot. I love his model, and it’s going to work in the playoffs.”
The C: One tweet that was interesting on your Twitter feed mentioned how hard it is to be a student athlete. Why is it so hard?
AU: “Every day you have to practice after school, and you have to travel and miss days of school. You have to talk to teachers to reschedule quizzes and tests. Doing homework on the road is hard when you have games. You’ll be staying up to 11 p.m. to take a quiz or two before the 12 a.m. deadline. It’s also hard, because of the time crunch sometimes you have to do papers on the road and turn them in to class the next week. The time is really what makes it difficult.”
The C: In the last edition of The Collegian, Coach Deyton told us about some of the methods they use as coaches to help their players do well in their classes. What have Coach Brotherton, his staff and the school done to help the team do well in the classroom?
AU: “A lot of the time, Coach Brotherton will end practice early to make sure we have some time to study and do our homework. Some of the coaches will help us with our homework like Coach Hawking. He’s a student coach so he takes classes with us. So he helps you with your homework if you really need help. The school provides tutoring and teachers really happy to cooperate with the players.”
The C: Another tweet you stated that you like the older episodes of “Spongebob Squarepants” to the newer versions. Why do you prefer old Spongebob episodes to the new ones?
AU: “The old episode have better plotlines. The newer episodes are just dumb. I know “Spongebob” is a dumb show and that’s what makes it great but the old episodes are funnier and more interesting than the new episodes. The news episodes are just too dumb. The old ones have just the right amount of dumb that makes you laugh. Yes, I still do watch “Spongebob Squarepants.”
The C: Is there anything else you like to do in your free time?
AU: “Basketball, videogames and going to church when I get the chance to.”
The C: As a player what does the game of baseball mean to you?
AU: “It means everything to me. I’ve worked on it every single season. I’ve focused my life on it, and without it I don’t know where I would be. Baseball has shaped me as a person. I don’t have words to describe how baseball has shaped me as a person. It is my life. I’ve met so many people and learned so much from the game of baseball.