Many young boys dream of becoming professional baseball players. But by the time they hit college, most have either stopped playing baseball or have given up. Even for a Division III baseball player, that dream is a lofty one. But Conner Larkin hasn’t let go of it yet.
Larkin, a political science major, hopes to be drafted by a Major League Baseball club, something only 12 Division III players accomplished in 2017. But he has an alternative plan if baseball doesn’t work out: a career in personal training.
Since August 2017, Larkin has run his own personal training business. With 18-20 clients, Larkin anticipates he’ll apply for his business to become an LLC and name it after he graduates.
“I am going to see what happens with baseball, and if doesn’t work out, I have this business as backup,” Larkin said.
Larkin built his Chapman experience around baseball. Because he redshirted – or extended his college-playing eligibility – his freshman year, he has a fifth year of eligibility that he’s using to play baseball.
As a freshman, he went to his academic advisor twice a semester to set a backup plan in case he wanted to use his fifth year for baseball. Larkin has completed 123 of the 124 credits needed to graduate at Chapman, but in order to use that last year of eligibility, he had to pay for his final semester at with his personal training earnings.
For most of his college career, Larkin was a two-sport athlete, entering Chapman as a football recruit and walking onto the baseball team.
“Coming out of high school, many coaches told me that I needed to choose between baseball and football, but I didn’t want to,” Larkin said. “I balanced both and it worked.”
This year, he opted to stick with baseball, only because of the risk of head trauma in football. Larkin suffered an injury – which he wouldn’t specify – last year and realized that he didn’t leave everything out on the field.
“I wanted to leave a mark playing the sports I love,” Larkin said. “I wanted to finish the way I wanted to and playing only baseball was the answer.”
Head baseball coach Scott Laverty said that Larkin responds well to coaching and is “always there to work hard.”
“As a person, Conner has great work ethic and a lot of dedication,” he said.
Sophomore catcher Kevin Gregersen said Larkin has a veteran presence on the team.
“Conner is a true leader, and I would compare him to Draymond Green (Golden State Warriors basketball player), in the sense that he is vocal and not afraid to call people out,” Gregersen said.
With a full season ahead, the baseball team has its next game Feb. 21 against Castleton University.