PORTSMOUTH —Getting quality outfielders in any recruiting class is especially vital to a team’s defense.
Colombia native Luis Vergara-Schoonewolff is one of those quality outfielders that any team must have on their roster.
The Ivy Tech junior college transfer, who played his first two seasons at the Indiana-based institution, will transfer to Shawnee State for his final two seasons of play — beginning with the 2021 campaign.
“It means a lot,” Vergara-Schoonewolff said. “It’s been a process living without my family and friends since I’m from Colombia, but I feel confident because of the things that I have been through in my JUCO. I feel like I am a tougher guy and a better baseball player.”
Much of Vergara-Schoonewolff’s upside comes from his work ethic and drive to get better at the game of baseball.
From his days attending Angelo American School — also known as Colegio Anglo Americano — in the capital city of Bogota, Schoonewolff put in 16-hour days on a regular basis in order to gain the proper schooling and develop the necessary baseball skills in order to become a student-athlete at the collegiate level.
“It wasn’t easy,” Vergara-Schoonewolff said. “I had to wake up every day at 5:30 a.m. to get to the bus and get to school at 7 a.m., then be there until 3:30 p.m. to get another bus to go to practice from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Then I’d head back home and repeat that process every day. It was tough, but I wouldn’t change all of the good memories and people that I met for anything. I believe that all of the hard work helped me to be where I am right now.”
Not surprisingly, that seemingly intense layout and schedule, while grueling, helped Schoonewolff grow as both a player and as a person — especially when the outfielder made his way to America for college ball.
“That schedule helped me to be more disciplined, taught me how to create a routine, and showed me how to keep things simple,” Vergara-Schoonewolff said. “That’s a key thing to succeed in college baseball, because in every practice and every game, you have to keep up with the same energy, no matter how tired you are physically.”
This showed from his freshman year to his sophomore season alone.
Prior to the cancellation of the season, Vergara-Schoonewolff was hitting .294 — 106 points up from the 2019 campaign — and had a home run and three RBI to his credit in just seven games.
Additionally, Vergara-Schoonewolff improved his .OPS by 188 points — from .616 to .804 — prior to the season being stopped.
He credits the improvements in his game to a strong culture at Ivy Tech that fostered further success and confidence in his own game as a whole.
“JUCO is a different experience,” Vergara-Schoonewolff said. “I got really close with the guys on my team especially because it was my first time in another place by myself like this. My team became more like family. It made me realize how different it is to play on a team that is close over a team that isn’t. I didn’t know what to expect when I came to the United States, but playing on a JUCO team was different than what I experienced back home. The practices were hard and long, but they made me stronger and more confident in myself.”
At Shawnee State, Vergara-Schoonewolff is looking forward to meeting a group of individuals who are about the same type of culture — and who want to obtain the same type of goals in the upcoming seasons ahead.
“I know that Shawnee State has a great program and a coaching staff that will help us win,” Vergara-Schoonewolff said. “I simply want to be at my best in order to help the program win championships.”