Valley to Jamestown
Nate Rodriguez got some good-natured ribbing, but nothing too severe.
The three-sport standout at Valley City High School recently signed with the University of Jamestown baseball team. In doing so, he became the rare Hi-Liner product to sign with his hometown's chief rival.
"Some of my friends that are going to VCSU were heckling me and giving me a bad time, but they were just kidding around," Rodriguez said. "A lot of people have been very supportive, even some diehard VCSU fans were congratulating me and wishing me the best."
Rodriguez's final decision came down to playing baseball or football at VCSU, or baseball for the Jimmies. The three-time all-state running back/safety drew interest from every football program in the state except NDSU. Even UND gave him a "shout out."
"Nobody had talked to me about playing baseball until pretty much this year when they found out I wasn't going to play football," said Rodriguez, who opted for baseball due to the physical toll college football can dish out. "When Jamestown became a possibility, it was definitely something I wanted to look into."
Tom Hager, UJ head baseball coach, said Rodriguez projects as a third baseman and also potentially a pitcher. Hager said it was a good fit all the way around.
"We always take pride in getting the best local kids that we can whether that's from a small community or a larger community," the UJ coach said. "Our biggest concern is being able to get good kids, good athletes, good students and good character people and we think Nate's that type of guy.
"Anytime you can get a kid from right down the street who has lots of potential you do whatever you can to get him here."
Rodriguez, who averaged 17 points per game last season for the Hi-Liner basketball team, said getting to leave home, but still being close, was appealing.
"It's good because I can get a change of scenery, experience something different, but if I need to go home it's not far away," said Rodriguez, who plans to study biology. "I'm excited about it. I'm pretty grateful it worked out this way."