Pandemic Allows for Catawba Student to Finish Sport Management Degree
October 19, 2020
by Emma White '21
COVID-19, Coronavirus and Pandemic are all words that we have become all too familiar with this year. However, when we think and hear these words, we don’t really consider them to be good or beneficial. However, for Bryan Blanton it has been just that. Bryan was originally on track to graduate from Catawba in 2018. However, in 2017 he was selected in the 21st round of the 2017 Major League Baseball Draft by the New York Yankees. This led to a four-year career as a professional baseball player where he has played in Pulaski, VA, Charleston, SC, and Staten Island, NY for various Yankee affiliates.
Bryan was in the middle of Spring Training in Tampa, Florida when the pandemic shut down the sporting world. Major League Baseball would eventually suspend all operations on March 13th and not play its opening game until July 24th in a shorted 60-game season.
While professional players assigned to a major league roster would have the opportunity to compete in 2020 the same could not be said for those assigned to minor league rosters. On June 30 MiLB (Minor League Baseball) announced for the first time in the organization's 120-year history that it was canceling its season.
"These are unprecedented times for our country and our organization as this is the first time in our history that we've had a summer without Minor League baseball played," MiLB president Pat O'Conner said in a statement. "While this is a sad day for many, this announcement removes the uncertainty surrounding the 2020 season and allows our teams to begin planning for an exciting 2021 season of affordable family entertainment."
Bryan Blanton was one of those professional athletes who would take advantage of the 2020 year without baseball in returning to Catawba College. Bryan played baseball for Catawba under the leadership of Coach Jim Gantt. Bryan hopes to complete his sport management internship with Coach Gantt and Catawba Baseball this semester and then within the New Yankees before Spring Training begins. Coach Gantt had this to say about Bryan’s return to Catawba:
“I am happy Bryan is back in school at Catawba to finish his degree. Bryan was a huge part of our program. His professional season being cancelled, closed a door for playing, but did allow his educational door to reopen. It’s obvious that Bryan’s degree is very important to him.”
Going beyond baseball, Bryan also enjoys watching the UNC Tarheels, and the Carolina Panthers, and he was not in favor of the Cam Newton trade.
Bryan plans to get his degree in May of 2021 as he needs to complete two online classes in the spring semester. For the next baseball season, whenever it takes place, Bryan hopes to continue pitching for the Charleston RiverDogs or the Tampa Tarpons.
Bryan could have looked at the pandemic as an annoyance for putting his baseball career on hold. However, he decided to persevere and look at it as an opportunity to finish up his degree in Sport Management. Bryan said this about the impact COVID-19 has had on his life, “A pandemic is the only reason I was able to come back to school. If it wasn’t for COVID, there is no telling if I would have ever finished school.”
Bryan’s excellent work ethic and perseverance to finish his degree while continuing to still do what he loves is an example that not only collegiate baseball players should look at and follow, but everyone else too. There’s no reason why someone can’t chase their career and get their college degree at the same time. We all have dreams and goals, so go follow them!