Senior James Stea transferred to Valpo his junior year to continue pursuing his baseball career.
Stea played baseball for Golden West College during his freshman and sophomore years, when he led the league in stolen bases and was named All-Conference as a center fielder. However, Stea knew transferring to Valpo was going to be the best fit for him down the road after meeting with the Valpo coaching staff.
“I decided to come to Valpo because I felt a strong connection with the coaching staff, and I liked the vision they had for the program,” Stea said. “They played the style of baseball I am accustomed to, and I felt like I could help make an impact for the team. After getting to know them personally and talking to them extensively about the program and the type of players they recruit, I knew Valpo was the right fit for me.”
After college, Stea plans to continue playing baseball, whether it be here in America or overseas. His passion and love for the game goes beyond what words can describe. Head coach Brian Schmack said that Stea has a leadership role on the team and has matured over the course of his career.
“[Stea] leads by example,” Schmack said. “He is an extremely hard worker, but as of late [Stea] has started to take some of the younger guys under his wing and explain to them why hard work matters and giving your all on the field and to just let the results play themselves out.”
“[Stea] was a reckless player when he got here, meaning he just played at one speed,” Schmack said. “As he's matured, [Stea] has learned when to go all out and pick his spots better. He is now an aggressive ballplayer instead of an over-aggressive one.”
Stea loves the culture and family atmosphere this team has. Being around great people and playing the sport he loves makes it all the more enjoyable, on and off the field.
“The team culture is that of a family--we all want to watch our brothers next to us succeed,” Stea said. “Each individual on the team has their own role to play, and just like a family we hold each other accountable in executing those roles. The team camaraderie is great. We’re with each other all day, every day, and we push each other to excel in the weight room, classroom and on the field.”
Stea is excited for the conference tournament, which starts on May 24. He is batting .295 and has never been more eager to clinch a spot in the tournament.
Success for him starts with his hard work ethic. He is continuously giving his all and working towards the goal of winning a Horizon League Championship.
“I need to work hard day in and day out so when the tournament comes I will have the peace of mind in knowing that I have prepared myself to the best of my ability to be successful,” Stea said.
Knowing this is his senior year, but not his last year of playing the sport he loves, he’s ready to come out on top by winning a championship with his teammates.
He said he will miss the close relationships he has with teammates and coaches, who are all on the same mission as him. He’s ready to make history for the Valparaiso Baseball team and to end his senior year with nothing but success.