Oct. 18, 2017
Georgia Tech baseball
“Our Stories” is a RamblinWreck.com feature that provides first-person stories from current Georgia Tech student-athletes on their journey through academics, competition and life once their athletic careers are over. These young men and women represent the ideals of what it means to be a STUDENT-athlete at Georgia Tech. These are their stories.
Johnathan Langley: Learning The Value In Serving Others
As a young kid growing up in Atlanta, my dream was to be a Georgia Tech baseball player. While I never found a spot on the official roster, the lessons I’ve learned from my position on the team have been invaluable.
My freshman year at Georgia Tech, I walked into head coach Danny Hall’s office and asked how I could walk on to the baseball team. There was no doubt in my mind I wanted to continue playing baseball for as long as I could. I started when I was four years old and began catching when I was eight. What really drew me to the catcher position was getting to be a quarterback of the field, directing players and telling them where they need to be positioned. I stuck with catcher throughout little league and travel ball, and when Coach Hall and assistant coach Jason Howell told me where I’d fit best on the team, it was as the team’s catcher…for the bullpen.
I’ll admit being the bullpen catcher wasn’t exactly what I had in mind when I went to try out for the team. I’d never be listed on the roster and never have my chance to take an at-bat in a Georgia Tech uniform. I had to transition from batting fourth in high school to assisting pitchers through warm-ups. At the time, I thought, it wasn’t ideal. But as a senior, I’ve put the incredible opportunity I’ve been given into perspective. Being a member of the Georgia Tech baseball team has allowed me to grow on a personal level and on a spiritual level, and the impact I’ve made on this campus has stretched far beyond the confines of the bullpen.
In high school, I was recruited by some smaller schools, but earning a strong education was a primary goal for me, and thus, Georgia Tech was always at the top of my list. Since becoming a student-athlete I’ve gotten involved in organizations like the Student-Athlete Advisory Board, as well as the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) and 925. Both FCA with campus director Keith Brown and 925, a bible study lead by our player development coach Steve Tamborra, have been crucial in helping me grow in my faith, live out my faith in God and act on it daily, which has helped me tremendously during my time at Georgia Tech.
I don’t know exactly where my future will lead me after I graduate from Georgia Tech, but I know that because of my experience on the baseball team, including the leadership roles I’ve taken on as a student-athlete, I’ve realized that I want to do something where I’m helping others. From playing a supporting role on the team to traveling to Costa Rica this past summer—my first time out of the country—as part of the Jackets Without Borders program, I’ve learned the immense value in serving others. I don’t need to hit the walk-off home run to put a smile on someone’s face. It’s the small moments, the advice I give to a struggling pitcher or an upcoming freshman, and the bonds I make with my teammates and other student-athletes that truly mean the most.
If I had it my way, the end of this baseball season won’t mark my last time as a part of a baseball organization. I’d like to get into coaching, something I, in some ways, have been doing for four years as I’ve worked with the pitching coach to set the Georgia Tech pitchers up for a successful outing on the mound. Perhaps I’ll continue catching as a bullpen catcher for a professional team. Either way, I’ve begun to embrace the role of serving others without needing to be in the spotlight. In turn, I’ve realized that I get just as much out of helping people as they do.
From the campus organizations I’ve been able to be a part of to the trips I’ve taken to the long-lasting relationships I’ve built, I can be nothing but grateful that I stepped into Coach Hall’s office freshman year asking for a spot on the team. Baseball has provided me with much more than a catcher’s mitt, and if I can find a way to keep doing what I love, I won’t be straying too far from the bullpen anytime soon.