March 25, 2010


Potent Panther Transplant

By Michael Perry


Heading into his sophomore season at the University of Vermont, Mark Micowski (left) was as anxious as every other college baseball player a week before opening day.


Unfortunately for Micowski and his teammates, instead of taking some extra time in the batting cage or staying after practice to shag a few more fly balls, life would change forever.


On Feb. 20, 2009, Vermont officials announced the discontinuation of its baseball and softball programs. Despite playing the 2009 season, budget cuts left several young athletes scurrying to get onto a new team by the 2010 campaign.


“It was a big shock to me and no one ever saw it coming,” Micowski said. “Everyone was pretty much scrambling. It was pretty much like senior year, getting recruited all over again.”


Micowski remarked that the cut of the program astonished everyone involved, as Vermont baseball was traditionally known as a winning program.


In late April, while finishing his final season with the Catamounts, Micowski made his decision to head south to Atlanta to play for Georgia State.


Rather than heading to the first college he could find, Micowski sought out a school with both strong academics as well as a respectable baseball program.


“Vermont is a good academic school and I wanted to go to another good academic school.” Micowski, a Political Science major, said. “It just worked out that Georgia State was that pick and it definitely helps that it’s down south because warm weather always helps.”


Once securing his spot on a new team, Micowski was forced to adopt a new program, a new university, and a whole new region of the country.


“It was definitely a lot of adjusting,” Micowski said of his new life in Georgia. “One thing that did help, though, was we had signed a lot of junior college guys. That helped a lot because they were all in somewhat of the same boat as I was, in being new and being juniors especially.”


Though eventually settling into his new team, being 16 hours from his hometown of Haddam, Conn., was challenging for both Micowski and his family.


“It hurt just because they love seeing me play so much,” Micowski said of his parents. “They’ve flown down twice to see me play already (in Georgia), but the biggest thing is they’re just happy to see me playing where I’m happy.”


Along with being a gifted baseball player and intelligent student, Micowski has a deep connection to his family. He keeps up with his parents extensively, especially his father, who he regards as his biggest influence in his baseball career.


“I would definitely have to say my dad,” Micowski said. “He still throws batting practice to me, and he’s the first person I call every time after my games. He’s been the best coach for me ever since I was a little kid.”


Micowski attended Xavier High School in Haddam, where both he and his father played. During his prep school career, Micowski was a standout baseball and basketball player. He finally decided on baseball, even though his father played basketball at Connecticut.


As of now the junior outfielder is fitting in extremely well with his new team as he has competed in 20 games and currently bats in the leadoff spot for the Panthers.


Georgia State head coach Greg Frady considers Micowski a great asset to his squad, as well as being a great person off the diamond.


“He is a quality young man, he’s very intellectual and comes out and works hard every day,” Frady said of Micowski. “He’s coachable in a way that he’s always trying to pick up new things. He’s an excellent teammate and a good person to be around.”


Micowski’s desire to challenge himself in the classroom and on the ball field truly rings true in both the words of Coach Frady as well as the stat book.


The junior is batting .456 and has 35 runs in 20 games. Micowski has an .on-base percentage of .519 while ripping three long balls with 20 RBI. The outfielder is also a bandit on the base paths, as he is tied for the team lead with six stolen bases.


Micowski hit for the cycle on March 5 against NC Central, going 7 for 8 with four runs and seven RBI. He set school records for hits and at-bats. During the first week of March, Micowski batted .636 (14 for 22) with five doubles, two homers, 14 runs and 10 RBI in five games. He was named Player of the Week in the Colonial Athletic Association, Northeast Region Player of the Week by and National Player of the Week by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA). Micowski was also named to the College Baseball Foundation National All-Star Lineup.


Though Micowski and his former Vermont teammates dealt with a tremendous trial that many athletes will fortunately never face, his character, intelligence and determination brought him through all right.


(photos courtesy of Georgia State Media Relations Office)