Central Michigan infielder Jim Geldhof recently took time to answer a few questions from SCS.com. Geldhof is one of the top players in the MAC and is a returning senior for the Chippewas. After being named to the 2004 1st Team All-MAC squad following his junior season at CMU, the Troy native was recently named to the National College Baseball Writers Association Preseason Second Team All-America.
After a rough 0-4 start to the season, the Chippewas rebounded to win three straight over Western Kentucky last weekend. On the season thus far, Geldhof is hitting .393 with four doubles and a couple of RBIs. The senior has also scored five runs and was successful in his only stolen base attempt.
JIM GELDHOF, CENTRAL MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY
SCS.com: Coming out of high school, what other colleges did you consider, and why did you ultimately choose Central Michigan?
Geldhof: "I wasnít very highly recruited out of high school. I was looking at Eastern Michigan and Oakland University. Also, I was considering junior hockey. I ended up choosing CMU because of the coaching staff and the campus. I felt right at home there."
SCS.com: In your sophomore season in 2003, you hit .309 at the plate. The improvement from that year to your junior season in 2004 was dramatic. You led the team with a .427 average last spring, second-best in the MAC behind only Eastern Michigan's Brian Bixler, the 52nd overall pick in last year's MLB Draft. What changes (if any) did you make, and what do you feel made the difference between the two seasons?
Geldhof: "I really didnít make many changes. It was more of a mental approach the coaching staff had me take. Our assistant coach, Coach Villano, at our first practice of last year told me I would hit .400 if I took his approach. I did and it worked out well."
SCS.com: Leadership is another quality you display. Following the 2004 season, you were the Chippewas' only representative on the All-MAC First Team. Another award that probably means a great deal to you is your title as Team MVP, which is decided by your teammates. How do you go about being a leader on and off the field and earning the trust and confidence of your teammates and coaches?
Geldhof: "Team MVP and captain were definitely the awards that meant the most to me. I donít necessarily make it a point to try to be a leader, but I do try to lead with hard work. I also like to have fun with the guys and keep everyone loose. I think those are the things that have earned my teammates' and coaches' respect."
SCS.com: Not only have you been honored by your team and your conference, but you have also gained national recognition recently. In November, you were named to the 2005 Brooks Wallace Watch list, one of only 58 players nation-wide that have been nominated as a preseason candidate for national player of the year, as determined by the College Baseball Foundation. You were also named to the 2005 National College Baseball Writers Association's Preseason 2nd Team All-America. What does this national exposure mean not only to you but to your team and your school?
Geldhof: "They are nice accolades that give the school and program positive exposure, but Iíve tried not to get caught up in the preseason hype. Iím just trying to get ready for the season, and our goal is to get to the NCAA Tournament."
SCS.com: CMU baseball has improved while you have been on campus. Two years ago, the team went 25-28. Last year saw major improvement. CMU finished the season with a 33-24 record and was the MAC regular season champion. The season ended on a sour note, however, as you dropped two games in the conference tournament and failed to qualify for the NCAA Tournament. How disappointing was the ending to last season, and will it motivate you and your team this spring?
Geldhof: "It was extremely disappointing, especially having the conference tournament at our home park. We were embarrassed, and we feel that we have some unfinished business to attend to this year."
SCS.com: Speaking of the NCAA Tournament, your team was so close to gaining a berth last year but came up just short. Will that be an ultimate goal of the 2005 Chippewas?
Geldhof: "Yes, that is definitely one of our main goals. We feel if we can make it to the NCAA Tournament we could do some damage, but we have to take it one step at a time first."
SCS.com: Playing at a college like Central Michigan allows you to visit bigger, more well-known schools for games throughout the season. In the past, you have visited teams like UNLV, Notre Dame, Minnesota, and Michigan State. This year's schedule has road trips to Michigan, UAB, and another visit to Notre Dame. Do you enjoy visiting the bigger school's ballparks, and how do you find the atmosphere on the road in general?
Geldhof: "Yeah, it is always exciting to visit the bigger schools. Most of the guys on our team were overlooked by those same schools, so we feel we have something to prove to them. We have played well against bigger name schools, and we feel we can play with most anyone when we play our game."
SCS.com: Two of your teammates from last season, T.J. Johnson and Jeff Garner, have moved on to professional baseball. With you following in those guys' footsteps, have you talked to either of them about the process, and if so, what advice have they given you?
Geldhof: "Yeah, T.J. is one of my best friends, and we have talked about pro ball a little bit. Mostly heís just told me about the way it is in the minors, the traveling and whatnot. He did give me a little advice though: he basically said that all I can do is work hard and take care of my own business, and the rest will take care of itself."
SCS.com: Your head coach, Steve Jaksa, is in just his third season at CMU but has already made a big difference in that program. He is a CMU alum and was inducted into the Michigan High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in June of 2000. What makes Coach Jaksa such a great coach?
Geldhof: "I think what makes Coach great is that he is never satisfied. He is always looking to improve his players and his program, and I think that is the mark of a great coach."
SCS.com: What is your favorite memory from your baseball career, whether it be little league, high school, or college?
Geldhof: "My favorite memory of baseball would have to be last year winning the MAC championship. I also won a national championship in AAA hockey in 9th grade, which was a great memory as well."
SCS.com: Many athletes have role models that guide their athletic and personal lives. Who is one person you look up to on the field and one person you admire off the field?
Geldhof: "Well, on the field, I look up to our assistant coach, Coach Villano. He wasnít highly recruited out of high school and got drafted out of a D-II school. Then he ended up making it to AAA before arm troubles ended his career. It just goes to show that anyone who works hard can have a successful pro career. Off the field my role model would be my dad. He is a single father who raised three kids. He had to drive all over town when we were younger, taking me and my brother to hockey and baseball practices, or my sister to soccer practice. Now, both myself and my sister are playing D-I sports (Erin plays soccer for South Carolina), and Matt is at Michigan State."
SCS.com: What are a few things you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Geldhof: "I donít do a whole lot in my spare time. Iíll just relax, watch a movie, or play video games...Iím pretty laid back."
SCS.com: If a young baseball player was reading this and aspired to become successful in the sport, what advice would you give him?
Geldhof: "For a young kid, I would say the most important thing is to work hard, and donít let people tell you what you can and canít do. I was told for a long time I wasnít good enough to play D-I, and then I was told I wouldnít start at Central. The main thing is if you think you can do something, you probably can."
SCS.com would again like to thank Central Michigan's Jim Geldhof for taking time to answer our questions. We would like to wish he and the Chippewas the best of luck throughout the upcoming season.
|Copyright © 2004 SouthernCollegeSports.com. All rights reserved. This website is an unofficial and independently operated source of news and information not affiliated with any school, team, or league.|