Pandemic allows Catawba student to complete sports management degree
October 19, 2020
by Emma White ’21
COVID-19, Coronavirus and Pandemic are all words we are all too familiar with this year. However, when we think and hear these words, we don’t really see them as good or beneficial. However, for Bryan Blanton, it was just that. Bryan was originally on track to graduate from Catawba in 2018. However, in 2017 he was selected in the 21st round of the 2017 Major League Baseball Draft by the New York Yankees. This led to a four year career as a professional baseball player where he played in Pulaski, VA, Charleston, SC and Staten Island, NY for various Yankee affiliates.
Bryan was in the middle of spring training in Tampa, Florida when the pandemic shut down the sports world. Major League Baseball would eventually suspend all operations on March 13 and not play its opener until July 24 in a shortened 60-game season.
While professional players assigned to a major league roster would have the opportunity to compete in 2020, the same could not be said for those assigned to minor league rosters. On June 30, MiLB (Minor League Baseball) announced for the first time in the organization’s 120-year history that it was canceling its season.
“These are unprecedented times for our country and our organization, as this is the first time in our history that we have gone a summer without playing Minor League baseball,” said MiLB President Pat O’Conner. , in a press release. “While a sad day for many, this announcement removes the uncertainty surrounding the 2020 season and allows our teams to begin planning for an exciting 2021 season of affordable family entertainment.”
Bryan Blanton was one of those pro athletes who would take advantage of a baseball-free 2020 to return to Catawba College. Bryan played baseball for Catawba under coach Jim Gantt. Bryan hopes to complete his sports management internship with Coach Gantt and Catawba Baseball this semester and then with the New Yankees before spring training begins. Coach Gantt had this to say about Bryan’s return to Catawba:
“I’m glad Bryan is back in school at Catawba to finish his degree. Bryan played an important role in our program. His professional season canceled, closed a door to play, but allowed his educational door to reopen. Obviously Bryan’s degree is very important to him.
Beyond baseball, Bryan also enjoys watching the UNC Tarheels and the Carolina Panthers, and he was not in favor of the Cam Newton trade.
Bryan plans to graduate in May 2021 as he must take two online courses in the spring semester. For the next baseball season, whenever it happens, Bryan hopes to continue pitching for the Charleston RiverDogs or the Tampa Tarpons.
Bryan could have viewed the pandemic as an embarrassment for putting his baseball career on hold. However, he decided to persevere and see it as an opportunity to complete his degree in sports management. Bryan said this about the impact COVID-19 has had on his life: “A pandemic is the only reason I was able to go back to school. If it wasn’t for COVID, there’s no telling if I would have ever finished school.
Bryan’s excellent work ethic and persistence in completing his education while continuing to do what he loves is an example that not only college baseball players should look up to and follow, but everyone else as well. There’s no reason why someone can’t pursue their career and graduate from college at the same time. We all have dreams and goals, so follow them!
Find out what Bryan did in the MiLB
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