By Alexa Ard

The article was posted on May 17, 2010 on what claimed to be the best high school sports blog. Thirty-seven comments scrolled down the page below the 287-word story that was listed as “Breaking News.”

Near the top of Fred Robledo’s blog was a bold headline that read: “Breaking News: Bishop Amat’s Jay Anderson will not play football in the fall, opting to concentrate on baseball, his family said.”

The tone of the comments about the news ranged.

Some pointed fingers at Amat’s football head coach Steve Hagerty for Anderson’s decision and brought up other rumors about the coach, which Anderson said were not true. A few defended Hagerty. Some were upset that they wouldn’t get to see Anderson play football for his senior year after him being a key player in the starting lineup his sophomore and junior years.

There were also comments that commended Anderson for his decision to focus on his studies and baseball. However, for the most part, the comments represented the political nature of sports, even in high school, with people pitting the football team versus the baseball team.

A few days prior to the blog post, there were suspicions that Anderson would not be playing football the following year because he was absent from weight training sessions. Keith Anderson, the father of Amat’s top running back, broke the news to Hagerty that his son would no longer play football. He told the head coach that it was a family decision, and they had all decided it was best that Anderson focused on baseball and school.

Keith Anderson respected his son’s decision 100 percent. It even sparked memories from his football-playing days in high school. Keith Anderson’s football coach pushed him to run track and field even though he really didn’t like it.

“I didn’t have the courage like Jay did to say, ‘I don’t want to do it,’” Keith Anderson said.

Anderson admitted that he even saw other students’ parents talking about his decision behind his back. Eventually the heat died down, and Amat found another talented running back in Zachary Shay.

The release Anderson felt from playing football was no longer there.

“It’s a sport that I love just as much as baseball,” Anderson said.

However, he also knew he had to earn better grades in order to make it into college. Playing two sports while also juggling school was a challenging balancing act for him. He also wanted to focus on improving his baseball game as an outfielder so he could make an impact at the college level.

Keith Anderson said the top three colleges it came down to were UCLA, LMU and Nevada. The Claremont native chose to be a part of the Wolf Pack because of the coaching staff Pack because of the coaching staff and because he had wanted to attend a school in a place with all four seasons. It was with Nevada that he immediately made an impact.

Kaitlin Oki /Nevada Sagebrush In his junior season, Anderson is looking to return to his old freshmen form, in which he was a regular starter and a staple in the Wolf Pack’s lineup

Kaitlin Oki /Nevada Sagebrush
In his junior season, Anderson is looking to return to his old freshmen form, in which he was a regular starter and a staple in the Wolf Pack’s lineup

As a freshman, he competed in 55 games, 54 of them as a starter. He batted .286 with five doubles and five triples with 19 RBI, topped the team with 36 runs scored and was second on the team with 10 stolen bases. Anderson also put together an 11-game hit streak to start the season, which was the third longest streak on the team. It was during this hot streak that he batted .310 with six runs scored and seven RBI. He reached base in 18 consecutive games, which was a tie for the second longest streak on the team.

It was also during this year that he realized choosing baseball over football was the right choice.

“Seeing how big the guys were (on the Nevada football team), I was like wow, if I actually played, I’d be a lot smaller than I thought I’d be,” said Anderson, who stands at five-foot-eleven and weighs 185 pounds.

However, the following year he found himself mostly sitting on the bench due to a setback. He made a total of only 34 appearances with 14 as starts.

“After having such a great freshman year and then not playing… I told Jay that was a new role for him,” Keith Anderson said. “He has never in his career had to have that role of being on the bench and watching. It was a new territory for him, so I told him to embrace it and encourage his teammates.

Yet, Anderson’s father also told him to not give up and to always be ready in case the coach called on him. In the offseason Anderson continued to work extremely hard in the weight room and on the field.

The hiring of Jay Johnson as the new head coach gave Anderson more of a feeling that this year really was a fresh start for him. Anderson can also relate with Johnson in that he too was once a football player.

“I think there’s a mental and physical toughness component that go with being a football player that translates well to baseball,” Johnson said. “…I always like having football guys. They tend to be a little more mentally and physically tough.”

However, there are times when Anderson is in the outfield just waiting for something to happen. This is when he misses the pace of football the most. Within that contact sport he could take out his anger on the opponent. However, in baseball, he’s had to learn to stay calm.

“Coach Jay helped me personally with the mindset of baseball, and not just me, our team,” Anderson said. “He talks about the game and about how it’s more of a mental game. Most baseball players, who are good, are very mentally strong. They don’t let a strikeout affect them… You can’t let what happened in the past affect the present and the future even if it’s positive or negative, so you have to take everything like it’s brand new.”

Johnson believes the mental strategy to baseball is often under-coached and that he makes a conscious effort to instill those kinds of skills into his players. He stressed the importance of consistency, having solid mental routines and tools to keep players focused on the present moment, not the results. He can see that Anderson has taken this advice by noting that he is a great teammate, whether things are going well for him or not.

Anderson is looking at this year as a clean slate, and with Johnson’s advice, has learned to focus on the present. So far this season, Anderson has seen more playing time appearing in 20 of the 24 games with 14 starts. His batting average is .182 and has belted 6 RBIs. Anderson is still working to find his rhythm.

“I’m glad he’s having some success this year,” Keith Anderson said. “Maybe not as fast as he hoped, but he’s worked very, very hard.”

Although he lists his faith as a Christian and the way his parents raised him as things that make him who he is today, it’s the lessons he’s learned from baseball that he raved about the most.

“I believe loving the game of baseball has helped me in everyday life because it taught me to focus. It taught me that I needed to sacrifice. It taught me determination —

things that you need to be successful in life. And not just baseball, I played baseball and football since I was four or five years old. And obviously in life, you live and you learn. So I’ve had some learning experiences also that have shaped me and opened my eyes, and made me realize what is truly important and to stay focused.”

Alexa Ard can be reached at