Getting a baseball scholarship is a big step for Nathaniel Woods.
“I’ve been waiting for that for a while,” said Woods, who chose to commit to the Frontier Community College Bobcats in Fairfield, Ill. “I’ve been working hard all the time. It paid off.”
It was a great feeling for Woods, who joked he needed his mother Christina Black’s signature on the papers because at 17, he’s too young to sign it alone.
“I had a huge smile on my face for the next week,” said Woods, who attends Penticton Christian School. “Got a lot of congratulations from everybody.”
Woods will be one of the youngest players on the newly-minted Bobcats squad. It’s an opportunity that excites him.
“They are in a great division, Junior College Division 1,” he said. “Just a lot of opportunities there. A lot of people come to see you while you play.”
Woods plans on staying with the Bobcats for two years then he will move onto a larger university and has an interest in studying sports management.
Jeff Baker, head baseball coach of the Bobcats, likes that Woods is a “great kid with great character.” Baker, who found Woods on a college recruiting website, was also attracted to Woods’ high skill level, which includes having good speed, a great arm and a solid swing.
“He’s gonna bring a ton to us, on and off the field,” said Baker in an email. “We feel his talent speaks for itself. He is a solid outfielder that can chase down fly balls and keep balls out of the gaps as well. Add the strong throwing arm and you have a nice outfielder.”
Baker and his assistant coach broke down hours of video footage on Woods and also spoke to his coach with the West Kelowna Diamondbacks, Tom Kateinikoff.
Offensively, Baker likes Woods’ swing and that he brings a lot to the plate with power, speed, contact and discipline. Being a strong student, Baker feels that Woods can set the example for others and hopes he takes on some leadership responsibility as well.
“Woodrow (as I call him, he prefers Woody.) seems like a very goal-oriented person,” said Baker. “He knows we’re a new program, but grasped the challenge of making history here at Frontier. He has a great sense of humour which his teammates are going to love as well. Seems like a well raised and disciplined young man.”
Baker said once they contacted Woods they knew he was a perfect fit.
“Our goal is to prepare him, like our other players, for the next level of baseball as well as academically,” said Baker.
Woods joined the Diamondbacks after the South Okanagan Minor Baseball Association Tigers were unable to field a midget program last year. Woods made strides in improving his hitting, throwing and training. Woods also became more versatile so he is able to play more than one position.
“It’s just more hard work and dedication came into it,” he said. “That’s why I got noticed.”
He said playing with the Diamondbacks was good for the competition and this year he will return to West Kelowna, this time playing in the College Prep Division. He will see more competition and play between 55 and 60, which Woods said will be a good experience. He also looks forward to having fun in the new league.