Gobert not too late to fit with Flyers

Matthew Busch/The Herald
Jasper High School graduate Nick Gobert, a four-year starter who helped the Wildcats reach the Class 3A state finals in 2010 and again this season, signed this week to play college baseball at the University of Dayton.

Herald Sports Editor

Throughout the recruiting saga, Nick Gobert felt somewhat like the kid in the dodgeball game who was among the last to be picked.

Big-time colleges acknowledged his athletic ability but didn’t see a Division I body. His pitching laurels were respected, but not revered as dominant enough for the next level. His leadership and competitiveness were selling points, but few schools nibbled.

It required a month beyond his high school graduation for Gobert to accomplish it, but the Jasper High School baseball standout latched on with a program that was happy to pick up a player whom other programs passed on. Gobert committed Wednesday to continue his baseball career at the University of Dayton, as he’ll join fellow 2013 JHS graduate Mark Giesler on the Flyers squad next season.

“It’s exciting that it’s all fallen into place,” Gobert said. “I heard coaches say, ”˜He’s not Division I, he’s too slow.’ It’s nice that somebody looked at me and accepted me and wanted me to play.”
It’s also rid Gobert, who helped the Wildcats to a Class 3A state runner-up finish two weeks ago, of a million-dollar question he said he constantly fielded during his senior season: “Where are you going to school?”

“It’s nice and relaxing now, knowing where I’m going,” he said. “It’s a big lift off your shoulders.”
The arrival at Dayton came after crunching an assortment of options.

Gobert also considered Kentucky Wesleyan and Bellarmine for baseball, and pursuing a walk-on slot at College World Series participant Indiana was also an option. So was performing the football-baseball double at a pair of smaller schools, DePauw and Franklin.

Dayton came into focus when the Flyers invited Gobert to a showcase event over the winter. Something else about Gobert seized the attention of coach Tony Vittorio, an Indiana native and former Lincoln Trail College coach who’s long known Nick’s father, 26th-year JHS coach Terry Gobert.

“He’s always liked Jasper ballplayers because he says they work harder than any other kids he recruits,” Nick Gobert said of Vittorio. “We got to talking as the season went on. It’s not like I had to go where Mark was going, but it worked out that way.”

Gobert and Giesler will head to the Dayton campus as buddies but keep a bit of a distance; in the interest of garnering “the full college experience,” Nick said, the two won’t be roommates.

For now, Gobert’s academic path remains as open as his college search once was. From options of teaching and coaching to chiropractic to physical therapy to sports management, there’s one perceptible thread.

“I still want to be around sports,” said Gobert, also a two-year starter on the basketball team and an all-conference defensive end in football. “I don’t know how I could leave.”

With Gobert entrenched in the lineup everywhere from middle infield to catcher to pitcher, where he was 22-2 over his career, the Wildcat baseball team amassed a 113-20 mark over the last four seasons.

Gobert realizes the challenge of parlaying the success across the state line to his new college program. After winning the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament title in 2012, Dayton slipped to 11-39-1 this spring. Gobert, who initially looked at Dayton as a walk-on role, has already been assured of a roster spot next season, even though he committed to Dayton too late to receive athletic scholarship money as a freshman. That aid will kick in fully his sophomore season in addition to the academic scholarships he’s received that will span all four years.

Gobert’s been told he’ll have the chance to play third base or second base as a freshman, and he said he’s got ambition of challenging for a catching position and could even get a chance to pitch. It’s the same mixed bag he’s used to performing, now coming at the level he’s been waiting for.

“It’s just been a dream of mine to play Division I baseball. It’s all I wanted to do. It’s awesome that the opportunity arose,” he said. “I’m just excited to fight for a position next year and play.”

Contact Brendan Perkins at bperkins@dcherald.com.

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