Hard Work Pays Off for Former Walk-On Pat Terry
By, Tom Schreier
Four years after being cut from Santa Clara's baseball team, senior catcher Pat Terry hit his first career home run in the team's opening series against Nevada. As he watched the ball sail past the outfield wall towards the batting cages, Terry circled the bases knowing that his hard work had paid off.
He must have had a similar feeling Tuesday night at Fresno State. Terry did it again. With SCU trailing in the eighth inning, Terry hit a three-run drive that tied the game at nine, allowing the Broncos to realize an eight-run comeback.
"He's worked incredibly hard to get where he is," Santa Clara head coach Mark O'Brien said of Terry. "It's a great lesson: when you get your opportunity you've got to be ready for it and he's been ready for it."
"It's a special feeling because not everyone can say that they have done it," Terry said recalling his solo shot against Nevada. "I was just glad that my parents got so see it because they were in town."
Pat's parents--Rocky and Colleen--live in Issaquah, Washington, a suburb located 20 minutes east of Seattle. Despite living 845 miles away from Stephen Schott Stadium they typically watch three or four series a year. Rocky has served as a coach to Pat during his childhood and encouraged him to go out for the team once he was accepted at Santa Clara.
"My dad pushed me. Being in (my) position, I did not know if it was going to work out, but I'll go out there and do it mainly for him," says Pat, "I don't want to say I was hopeless, but I felt like I had a big wall (in front of me)."
Pat was not offered any scholarships out of high school. At Eastside Catholic School in Sammamish, WA he had played with several other players who had been offered scholarships from various Division I programs.
"I didn't feel especially confident because I wasn't sure that--not being recruited and not having a scholarship--that I was ever going to be able to (make the team)," he said.
"Not this year," Terry told his father after he was not offered a position on the team after his tryout. Although he was unsure if whether or not he would try out again, he did not want to tell his father, who may have been uncomfortable about his uncertainty.
"After I got cut I didn't think I was going to try out again. It's kind of a humiliating experience and there's only so much you can do so you go out there and let yourself out knowing that there's a good chance you won't get called the next day," Terry said as he shook his head. "I didn't really want to go out but I knew my dad was going to want me to go out. At some point I realized that there was a chance that I was going to be trying out for four straight years just for my dad."
Rocky encouraged Pat to get on a summer team to hone his skills and build confidence for the upcoming season. He joined a league in Portland and felt more confident playing against other athletes who either aspired to play or were playing collegiate baseball.
Terry's father encouraged him to transfer schools in hopes of making another team. After considering Washington State, Washington, and Stanford, Terry, a combined science major who had received a scholarship for his accomplishments in the classroom, remained at Santa Clara because of its academic reputation. The next year he returned more confident in his game and decided to try out for the team again.
"I've always wanted to get people to believe in me as much as I believe in myself," says Terry. "I was committed to not letting them tell me `you're not good enough to play for (Santa Clara)' because I knew I was. I just needed an opportunity and then I would improve to myself to do it."
Motivated by the myriad of naysayers who discouraged him, Terry made the team as a catcher his sophomore year. The longtime outfielder found it difficult playing behind the plate and credits catchers Geoff Klein and Tommy Medica for helping him with the adjustment.
"They're the best to learn from," he says. "You're not going to get a lot of guys like Geoff and Tommy."
Terry also feels that pitcher Nate Garcia's work ethic has helped him get where he is today.
"He's different from a lot of guys you're around, he's a hard worker," Terry says of his classmate, "You can see who's a hard worker and who's (naturally talented). I think being a hard worker pays off because that's what's pushed me so far to get to where I am."
Garcia, who expects to be drafted in this year's MLB Entry Draft, is an example of a naturally talented player who leaves nothing on the field or in the weight room. Unfortunately, Terry says he has played against many players who do not put forth the effort necessary to reach their athletic potential.
"To see some of the guys who don't take it seriously, don't work out, don't take extra swings, whatever, it's just a slap in the face," he says.
An accomplished student, Terry plans on attending medical school after graduation. Knowing that he will have to compete with some of the most intelligent pre-med students from around the country for a spot in med school, Terry plans on using his experience of walking on to the baseball team at Santa Clara to motivate him.
"I think to be a successful person you're going to have to deal with ups and downs and failure mostly. Someone who can look failure in the face, someone who can say `I didn't make it' or confront themselves (when they say) `I'm not good enough,' that person is going to be stronger because the more adversity you face and the more experiences that you have in your life the more well-rounded of a person you are going to be.
"Going through all the hard work and being willing to put yourself out there and not being afraid to fail, that helps you succeed in anything, work, whatever, relationships, anything. If you're willing to work hard and not be afraid what's going to happen if you don't make it... then I think you're going to succeed more often than you fail."