The third of four Class of 2020 baseball graduates that has returned to campus to further their education this fall, Michael Nocchi (Manasquan, N.J.) is enrolled in the Master of Science in Management in Entrepreneurial Leadership program. Nocchi, who began his graduate coursework in late August, returned to the field with his teammates for the first practice of the 2020-21 campaign last week. He is scheduled to earn his graduate degree in May.
Thinking back to the moment when coach Noone called the meeting in the locker room to inform us of the season being canceled, I can still remember vividly the emotions flowing through my body. We had a tremendous preseason and coming off an opening weekend series win against an opponent like Trinity (Texas), I knew this team was bound to be champions. Having all that taken away from us before our hard work and preparation could manifest itself was a gut-wrenching feeling. I was of course excited to play myself, but we were such a "new" team with so many guys having the opportunity to step up and fill big roles that I was even more excited to see them succeed in the lineup and on the mound.
To be completely honest, even with how much losing the season hurt, going to grad school and having the opportunity to play again was not at the forefront of my mind. I was in the middle of interviewing at a handful of companies so my plan was to secure a job and begin my career. But as the pandemic got worse and the companies I had been talking to were freezing their hiring, I suddenly had no real plan. Without much direction for what my next step in life would be, I reached out to my coaches for advice and that is where the possibility of grad school became a reality.
After realizing this new possibility, I talked it over with a lot of current and former teammates about how much of an incredible opportunity it would be, most importantly from an academic point of view and being able to play baseball again. After deciding this is definitely the route I wanted to take, I talked over the logistics with my parents and we decided this was something I could not pass up.
While the days and weeks that followed the cancelation of the season were very grim and depressing, months removed I am now set to attend graduate school, which was something I never had thought I would be able to do. In regards to baseball, the mindset is the same as it has been in years past. We will be the most prepared team and compete day in and day out in whatever the season winds up looking like. Coach Noone continues to reiterate that there will be winners and losers that come out of this whole thing and I believe we will wind up winners.