Johnny Jan Jr.: Up to the plate for one last season

Stepping up to the plate for his final season, out of Germantown, Maryland, welcome senior, Johnny Jan Jr.

Johnny Jan, or J.J. has been representing Wilkes on the baseball field for his four years here. As his time as a Colonel comes to and end, we reflect on the four years he has had, the memories made, and the teammate and individual JJ is.

Starting back in his sophomore year of high school at Northwest High School, JJ was sought out by the former Wilkes baseball coach, Matthew Hollod. After the first contact was made, they both kept in touch and when it was time for JJ to graduate to high school, Wilkes presented the best fit and opportunity for him, and that started his four year long journey here.

Many collegiate athletes do not always have the plan to continue their athletic career at the collegiate level, but for JJ he knew as soon as he started playing the game.

We caught up with the senior starter, and got some background on how his career started, and how his collegiate career began. We asked if he had always known if he would be playing collegiate baseball, JJ answered promptly, “yes, ever since I was a little kid my dream was to play collegiate baseball and I would do anything to continue playing the game I love.”

And that is exactly what he has done.

JJ has worked hard to become an individual on the team that is able to make an impact during each of his four years here, and now as a starting senior, his role and impact is more focused on leadership, and ensuring that the team has the right head on their shoulders as the program continues.

“ Being a senior leaves you with this unwritten responsibility, while you are so focused on the current season, you also start to think about the next, and the guys that still have some years left. After playing for four years, it isn’t just like you stop and leave the program. As a senior, I want to have a successful season but I also keep in the back of my mind, how I can help set the team up for success in the seasons that follow.”

This speaks on the huge accomplishments as a leader that JJ has seen develop during his time on and off the field.

While the snow, rain and bitter cold may have shifted the Colonel’s baseball season, some may say it has been a good change for their season.

Junior, Matthew Dacey, even called it a blessing in disguise. “I think it has been a blessing in disguise.  The extra time has allowed for a couple guys to get their arms and swings to where they need to be.  Obviously, it is tough to keep getting cancelled but I think the team is using the snow/rain in our advantage.”

Although for many of the team members and coaching staff this can be frustrating and tough with all of the scheduling, but keeping a positive attitude is absolutely needed, you must be able to keep everyone focused and centered in on the future big conference games.

This is another role that JJ has taken on, he said, “ the seniors and captains have been trying to keep all the guys focused on the big picture. It’s always hard to keep having games canceled and more and more practices. We are just working to keep having a good time now matter what, and keep working towards our goal.”

While the season continues to get prolonged, JJ looks at what he has already accomplished and some things he has learned along the way.

As a student athlete you learn skills that you must implement into your daily schedule in order to be able to stay successful. We asked JJ some of the thing he has learned over the duration of being a student athlete, he said, “ Being a student athlete has taught me a lot about life. Whether it’s about time management, being able to work with a team to achieve a goal, or not to take things too seriously and to have fun.”

He continued with, “one of the most valuable lessons that I have learned is not to take everything too seriously whether its school, sports, or life and to never say no to an opportunity.”

This came with our next question, JJ has been a key component of the team since his start back in the 2014 season, and has been successful in his major Sports Management, so we asked what would be some pointers he would give freshman coming into Wilkes as students athletes. JJ thought on, saying, “there’s a lot I would tell them, but most importantly I would tell them enjoy every second of college because it’s going to go by fast, and I know everyone is going to tell you that, but believe me they are all right.”

After graduating with a sports management major, JJ plans to move back home to begin his career, and work up to his dream job as a General Manager for a Major League baseball team.