From T-ball to team leader

Junior Nathan Nagy reflects on time as varsity player, how past experiences, role models shape his leadership


Lillian Gray

Junior Nathan Nagy started his spring break as a starter for the Knights as they started district play against Crockett on Monday March 13. Nagy combined with reliever Sam Stevens to extinguish the Cougar offense as the Knights won at Northwest Park going away, 10-0.

Lanie Sepehri, co-print managing editor & co-people editor

When it comes to baseball, junior Nathan Nagy knows exactly what he’s doing.

A breakdown of Nagy’s stats from his freshman and sophomore seasons. (Sophie Leung-Lieu)

Because it’s part of him. It’s been part of him since he was 4 years old playing T-ball with Northwest Little League. There, on that diamond, the one right beside Gullett Elementary School, Nagy caught a ball out of the air for the first time. He was playing first base when it came straight out of the sky: a small, white blur sailing toward him at top speed.

And he caught it.

That was only the beginning.

Things have changed since T-ball. After playing throughout elementary and middle school, Nagy has found his home on the varsity baseball team. But this isn’t his rookie season. Nagy has been pitching on varsity since sophomore year, something that doesn’t happen every day. In fact, Nagy even occasionally pitched on varsity as a freshman, where he distinguished himself as a valuable player.

“I had to understand that I was probably going to be on [varsity] again and elevate my role,” Nagy said.

Last year, as a sophomore, Nagy played as a pitcher only (PO). The effort he put in as a PO earned him the All-District MVP pitcher award at the end of the season. More than that, however, his specialized role helped him improve his overall game.

“It helped me get in a routine,” Nagy said. “Since I had one role, and I needed to fulfill the role, I was able to get in a routine with arm health and how I had to feel on a day to be able to throw 100%.”

Being an underclassman on a varsity team is unique. Instead of being intimidated, however, Nagy was inspired by the older players on the team. They helped create a culture of hard work, support and friendship.

If I can show others what [sports] could do for them mentality-wise and socially, I think I could help with that.

— junior Nathan Nagy

“I feel like we understand each other,” Nagy said. “The baseball guys, I mean, that’s basically the group that we’re with all the time. [Former coach Brandon] Grant said last year that he hasn’t had a team where everybody liked each other so much. I think that’s contributed to our success.”

During Nagy’s time as an underclassman on varsity, the older players showed him exactly what a team should be.

“[I was inspired by] their composure,” Nagy said. “I saw them and how they acted, their mental toughness and their poise after either something good or something bad happened.”

According to Mac alum and former varsity center fielder Wyatt Cunningham, Nagy made his mark on the older players as well.

“My first impression of Nagy was that he was a very hard worker,” Cunningham said. “He always did everything with intent and was always willing to get better.”

This year, as Nagy takes on increased responsibility as an upperclassmen, he is trying to emulate those that came before him. Nagy’s job is to help the younger players get comfortable with the team and push themselves to be the best they can be.

“Sometimes I have deja vu,” Nagy said. “I find myself sometimes in the same position as the upperclassmen were to me. Not necessarily in telling people what to do but more in encouragement. The leadership role, and helping the younger kids, is pretty cool.”

Nagy is trying to cultivate a similar culture to the one he experienced when he first started.

Junior Nathan Nagy (No. 22) huddles up with teammates at a tournament against Anderson on March 3. Nagy works to emulate the supportive community that his upperclassmen fostered for him during his first two years on varisty. (Stella Shepard )

“It’s a pretty good environment to mature in,” Nagy said. “It really gives you a close bond because you all are working together. It’s a pretty special chemistry. I feel like that separates us from other groups. Going through defeats and wins with each other, competing and having to give and take with the team mentality, has helped us create a pretty good environment. But we like to have fun.”

Junior John Dietz feels that Nagy’s knowledge of the game and commitment to the team have made him a valuable asset.

“Nathan’s a really good leader,” Dietz said. “He’s probably one of the most focused baseball players I’ve ever played with. He’s always locking into the game, and he always knows exactly what’s going on on the field.”

He’s probably one of the most focused baseball players I’ve ever played with. He’s always locking into the game and he always knows exactly what’s going on on the field.

— junior John Dietz

Dietz and Nagy have played together since their Little League days.

“He’s always thrown super hard,” Dietz said. “I remember, I used to catch him and he used to bruise my thumb every time I caught him.”

Throughout the years, Dietz has gotten to see Nagy evolve, both on and off the field.

“It’s been really fun to play with him and also just see him get better and better at baseball, because I know he wants to play on the college level,” Dietz said. “I think that’s totally possible for him, especially with the skills he’s developed. He’s worked super hard over the years and everyone’s seen that.”

Nagy hopes that, over the course of the season, he’ll be able to distinguish himself to watching coaches and find a school that wants him. If he’s unable to play, he is considering a career in kinesiology or some sort of physical therapy. But no matter where his path takes him, he wants baseball to be part of it.

“[It has] been such a big part of my life,” Nagy said. “If I can show others what [sports] could do for them mentality-wise and socially, I think I could help with that.”

Nagy has already made strides on this by volunteering as a T-ball coach for RBI Austin, an organization that seeks to provide mentoring through baseball and softball to under-served youth. Nagy works with kids as young as he was when he started playing T-ball, which has proved to be an enlightening venture.

The leadership role, and helping the younger kids, is pretty cool.

— Nagy

“Trying to teach [4-to-5-year-olds] a game when they might not even understand more simple stuff was a big learning experience,” Nagy said. “It’s fun to be around them and be able to help them and teach them. It’s taught me a lot, mainly patience and understanding.”

While watching kids run around on the baseball field brings him back to his roots, Nagy has changed a lot since his own days on the T-ball team. He’s gone from catching that first white blur out of the air to throwing fastballs on the mound. His drive, his skill and his team have carried him through his life. And as he looks to the future, he knows baseball will always be with him.

He may have been a designated pitcher as a sophomore, but this year Nagy is a position player too, playing first or third base if he’s not pitching, and the Knights are relying on his bat not just his pitching repertoire. (Stella Shepard)