Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Thunder From Down Under

By Kenneth Kirshner

For 21-year-old junior Brian Tompkins, choosing St. Thomas Aquinas College came down to two things: the game of baseball and academics. As a first year participant on the STAC baseball team, Brian--or  “Tompkins” as his teammates call him--can safely say he made one of the better  decisions of his life becoming a Spartan.

Growing up in Wappingers Falls, New York, Brian knew as a young child that he wanted to play college baseball. He knew the only way he could get there would be to practice hard, and study even harder. 

The number one reason Tompkins chose STAC was because of its stellar academic integrity. Tompkins, a graphic design major, is looking to get into his grandfather’s business via the graphic design route. STAC, as many of us know, has a challenging, yet rewarding graphic design program. Brian also chose STAC for its athletic program.

STAC baseball was coming off one of its most successful seasons in program history and Tompkins wanted to be a part of it.  The submarine right-handed pitcher did not get any scholarship offers coming out of Dutchess Community College, but STAC Coach Scott Muscat saw potential in the submariner, and took a chance on Tompkins as a walk-on reliever.

As a second year student at Dutchess Community College, Brian knew he wanted two things out of the college experience, to get the proper advisement and education he needed to get a top notch job in his grandfather’s company and to play the game he loved at the highest level. For most college athletes, playing baseball is more important than academics, but for Tompkins, baseball was put on the back burners for now. 
“The reason I chose STAC was because of the challenging graphic design major it had to offer. They had the best materials and professors, in my eyes, to help me succeed.” When the hard decision was finally made, Tompkins shifted his emphasis to making the baseball team in the fall of 2012.

The dean of St. Thomas Aquinas College is family friends with the Tompkins’. She provided Brian with all of the necessary information about the college and the baseball program to help persuade him to attend in the fall semester. The Spartans are a Division 2 baseball school that participates in the East Coast Conference. For Tompkins, the decision was easy. 

A semester and a half later, his decision was deemed a success. A month into the season, Brian Tompkins leads the Spartans in relief appearances and earned run average. With the starting closer going down due to a torn ACL, Tompkins may be on track to take over the closer role in a short time. Tompkins believes he has the mindset and confidence to take over the prominent role. “Becoming a closer is something I never thought I would be doing when I made the team in the fall. I saw myself as a situational pitcher because of the way I throw,” he said. He will now be heavily relied on due to a number of injuries to the pitching staff.

Knowing that he only has two years left in his baseball career, Tompkins is looking to make the best of it out on the baseball diamond. “I have worked so hard to get to this point and so has everyone else on the squad,” he said. “I believe we could bring St. Thomas Aquinas their first ever East Coast Conference tournament championship. We have all the components of a championship team, starting with the coaching, all the way down to the players.”

His graphic design major and pitching styles go hand in hand. Tompkins is referred to as a “submarine” pitcher, throwing from such a low angle, marking his nickname, “Thunder from Down Under.” Working hard in the classroom turns into hard work on the field for Tompkins. “I give 100% in the classroom. I do not think I have ever had under a 3.0 GPA in any semester in college. That is a true testament to my work ethic on and off the field.”

Looking back on his decision to join STAC, Brian Tompkins has no regrets in the decision he made. “I want to thank everybody who has helped me along the way to get me to where I am today,” he said. Brian Tompkins is the model of a perfect student-athlete always making sure school comes first, then baseball. Tompkins returns to the mound for the first start of his collegiate career against St. Anselm at Provident Bank Park on Sunday, March 17. 

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