KOKOMO, Ind. — The average summer job doesn’t include performing in front of crowds of cheering fans or requests for autographs.
Dalton Clarke, Noah Etchison, and Tavon Lindsay don’t have the average summer job.
The three Indiana University Kokomo baseball players are pursuing their dreams of playing professionally, as members of the Prospect League Kokomo Jackrabbits.
“It’s the coolest summer job you could have,” said Etchison (Pendleton/Wabash Valley CC), a business major. “You can’t ask for anything better in the summer than to play baseball in front of a crowd. You get goosebumps when you take the field. Your stomach is in knots, and you can hear the crowd cheering. It’s fun.”
IU Kokomo baseball coach Matt Howard is excited for the three to represent their team in the Prospect League, and in their college town.
“Anytime you can play for the hometown team in the summer, it’s exciting,” said Howard. “It’s exciting for the guys to immerse themselves in Kokomo, and live here all year. They’re getting a real feel for college baseball in Indiana, and the support our community gives our programs all year long.”
Howard is pleased for his IU Kokomo players to learn from Jackrabbits coach, Gary McClure.
“He has a Hall of Fame coaching résumé at the Division I level,” Howard said. “It’s huge for them to have a chance to play for him. As a coach myself, I think it’s cool for players to learn from other coaches. They’ll be prepared to excel when our season begins this fall.”
Clarke (Newmarket, Ontario/Southeastern Illinois CC) said it’s also an opportunity to represent the campus, and the quality of its student athletes.
“We’re showing there are good baseball players at all levels, whether you play in the NAIA or NCAA Division I,” said Clarke, who is studying history and political science. “It’s a huge lift to your pride when you go to batting practice with guys who play for big programs, and they say they like your swing. It validates what you’ve been doing for 15 years.”
Lindsay (Port St. Lucie, Florida/Wabash Valley CC) said what they learn during the Jackrabbits season will help them grow as players, and improve their IU Kokomo team next season.
“I like to play the game hard as a competitor; no matter if it’s summer ball, school ball, backyard ball, I want to play well and win,” the center fielder said. “I’m developing a sense of leadership, while I’m working on my game and bettering myself as an athlete. It’s helping me, and then we can make our team better.”
Etchison, a catcher, agreed.
“Playing in this league, we face elite pitchers, with high velocity, every time at bat,” he said. “When you hit against that caliber of pitcher, it makes your attitude more competitive, and we can bring that level to our entire IU Kokomo team.”
All three dream of careers as Major League baseball players, and appreciate the chance to experience what that might be like, at the Prospect League level.
“You almost feel like a minor leaguer,” Clarke said. “The kids want your autograph, fans want to talk to you, and you get food before the game and food after the game.” He’s also learning a new position — he played third base and was a designated hitter for the Cougars, and has played first base for the Jackrabbits.
While they plan to pursue baseball careers, their degrees from IU Kokomo prepare them for whatever comes next. Clarke is considering law school or a teaching career, while Lindsay, an exercise science major, wants to go to graduate school to be a physical therapist. Etchison plans to earn a Master of Business Administration, to work in marketing for an engineering company.
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.