By Max De Leeuw – Collegiate Staff
As most college students know, a little coffee can go a long way. For Grand Rapids Community College sophomore Anthony Villar, it helped him get ready for the baseball diamond and the classroom.
“That was tough especially when first semester I had 7:45 a.m. classes and had to commute in 20 minutes with all the traffic that’s already coming into Grand Rapids,” Villar said. “It was tough, but I’ve learned to be a morning person after that. I never liked to get up early, but after that I don’t mind mornings any more. Once I get coffee in me I’m good to go.”
Villar has been playing baseball ever since his dad got him involved with tee-ball when he was around 6 years old. Starting baseball at such an early age, he quickly found himself at home on the baseball diamond.
“In high school I made the varsity team as a freshman,” Villar said. “I got to start at shortstop. That was a big achievement of mine coming out of eighth grade.”
When Villar completed high school, after weighing his options, the sophomore chose to come to Grand Rapids Community College to play baseball for the Raiders. He considers this No. 1 of his favorite memories of being involved with the sport.
“Just being able to come in last year and start here too,” Villar said. “Being able to come in and play as an everyday player, it was a pretty big opportunity for me coming in to a college with the best of the best, kids all around the state, and just being able to jump right in and play with them. It was a pretty rewarding thing for me.”
Given the community college setting, Villar is part of a small group of the team’s veteran players.
“Anthony is one of only two players that was on the field last year,” Head Coach Mike Cupples said of the team’s returning players. “He played second for us last year, we had a pretty good shortstop, and he was coming in as a freshman, so he’s gonna be one of the leaders in the middle.
“He’s more of a quiet leader. He’s gonna joke when he has to and do some of that but he’s probably one of those guys that’d rather lead by what he does instead of what he says.”
Despite being around baseball for the majority of his life, college ball was a new challenge that Villar had to figure out.
“When I got thrown into everything and we started playing I started to realize how actually you need to commit yourself to playing if you want to be good at this level,”Villar said. “So just from last year to this year, I realized that I have to put in a lot more if I want to perform well at this level and be able to be successful.”
Starting Feb. 26 in Tennessee, the Raiders will escape Michigan’s harsh winter temperatures and play in a series of games down South. On Feb. 27, GRCC is scheduled to play in Florida where the team will stay for the remainder of their southern excursion, which will conclude March 5. The Raiders are scheduled to play in Michigan on March 17.