September 01, 2010
For Harvard-Westlake pitcher Lucas Giolito, it’s a dream come true.
It seems that within the mind of a young baseball player living in Los Angeles the dream of playing for the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) Bruins is always there. However for only a select few of those ballplayers it’s made into a reality, and such was the case for North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake’s star Pitcher, Lucas Giolito. Growing up playing baseball at Santa Monica Little League, Giolito was only a short trip down San Vicente Boulevard away from Jackie Robinson Stadium, home of the UCLA Bruins Baseball team and he was a consistent attendee at home games.
On Monday afternoon, Lucas Giolito went to the UCLA campus to take his second tour of the prestigious university and immediately he knew it was the right place for him.
“It just felt like a perfect fit as soon as I stepped on campus,” Giolito said. “The coaching staff is great, and it’s in my favorite city, LA.” It had been a long few months for Giolito, having made trips to six different universities in California while pitching in front of other out of state schools; however it ended abruptly, more so than even his own father had anticipated.
“It was unexpected, the last few months have seemed like a whirlwind of excitement,” Rick Giolito, Lucas’ father said. “I thought that we’d take a much longer approach to making the decision, but Lucas felt very strongly that he wanted to go to UCLA, and finally when I saw the excitement on his face, it was clear that his mind wasn’t going to change if given anymore time. I was very happy for him.”
As soon as Giolito made his decision, he felt the weight of a huge decision lift from his shoulders. “It feels unbelievable. It is without a doubt where I want to go,” said Giolito.
“I think it’s a huge step forward for him as a player,” Harvard-Westlake Pitching Coach, Ethan Katz said. “It’ll take off a lot of pressure because he figured it out now rather than later.” For Giolito, this accomplishment didn’t come easily. He was asked to dedicate many hours to playing this sport and with that dedication he was asked to sacrifice many social aspects of his childhood.
“I tried to explain to him that he would have to learn to make some sacrifices that other kids may not be asked to do in terms of freedom that he might expect as a kid,” Lucas’ father Rick said. “This included missing social events because he had made a commitment to the game and teams he was playing on. He took it very seriously; many don’t know that I can count on one hand how many times he asked to miss practice due to a social event, and he was that committed. Only twice since he was 11 years old has he asked to miss a practice to go to a birthday party or just to hang out with a friend.”
Being dedicated was a huge aspect of becoming a successful pitcher to Giolito, and in order to be his best he had to put in long amounts of time to keeping his body in shape as well as his duties on the field.
“I've always worked hard,” Giolito said. “Whether it’s in the weight room or on the field; also I’ve lived with my personal goal and saying "something can always be better" because there is always something about yourself as a person and a player that can be made better.” “He still has to work hard,” Katz said. “He still has a lot of work ahead, he needs to remember that.” Having accomplished a feat that one can only dream of, Giolito acknowledges that his high school days are far from done. “I will work my hardest in school because I can’t just go and blow it off now, it’s always most important,” Giolito said. “Luckily I can focus solely on actually playing the game, because I want to become a more consistent strike thrower and also I want the team to win Mission League and CIF by my senior year, if not this year.”
In order to continue to perform at the highest level, Giolito must get motivation from family and friends; however more importantly he must maintain a relationship with his teammates in order for them to continue to motivate him to work his hardest and do his best. “I don’t have to motivate him anymore, he’s beyond what parent motivation can do,” Giolito’s father Rick said.
“He gets all the motivation he needs and mainly it is coming from his coaches and teammates because he knows they are depending on him to be his best, he’s a team player, he’s not selfish. I’m proud of Lucas because of the fact that every team he plays on, whether its club, high school, or in a showcase, kids love him and love playing with him, he’s a real team guy.”
By Alex Rand Lewis
Cali High Sports contributor