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Game On: Student-Athletes Compete on Baseball and eSports Teams

Lebanon Valley College baseball field

From practice to a game, to a tournament, Bryan Towers '20, Chris DeClerico '20, Dylan Lower '22, and Joseph DeGrazia '22 have dedicated themselves to representing two LVC sports teams: baseball and eSports. It requires strong time management skills to juggle their academic and athletic priorities, but the players developed a personalized system and make the most of LVC’s available support. 

“With the help of my coaches for both sports, I can balance these two sports while maintaining my primary goal of a quality education,” said DeGrazia, a sophomore psychology major. “The teams also have their own counseling services to help us succeed as students and athletes. These resources are the key cogs in keeping my collegiate life organized and running.”

On the baseball field, these four contribute to the team’s success, with Towers and DeClerico at the plate and DeGrazia and Lower on the mound. Towers and DeClerico, seniors who had their seasons shortened in 2020, will be back on the diamond in 2021 for their final campaign. The two have combined for 220 hits and .300+ career batting averages. DeGrazia and Lower, also a sophomore, have two seasons under their belt and have combined for more than 27 innings of work out of the bullpen for the Dutchmen. All four played a part in the team’s 10-2 start, including a perfect 9-0 spring trip, before the 2020 season came to an abrupt end. 

Although it was shortened, Towers holds the 2020 season as one of his favorite memories. 

“I love competing,” said Towers, an accounting major and three-time member of the Middle Atlantic Conference Academic Honor Roll. “My favorite moments of baseball and eSports were actually this year. Our 9-0 spring break trip when we beat some good teams, and in eSports, beating the University of Maryland, a huge accomplishment that got us into the national rankings.”

When it comes to their eSports, the players compete across the College’s nine different games: DeClerico and Towers in Call of Duty, and DeGrazia and Lower in Rocket League.

They give thanks to the team for expanding their social lives and opening their eyes to a new sport they never considered before. 

“Joining the eSports team provided me with a variety of opportunities to meet new people and participate in school events, such as the VALE Music Conference,” said Lower, a physics major. “I bonded with many people in the eSports community—some from LVC and others from different colleges.”

DeGrazia serves as the eSports representative to the College’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee through which he collaborates with other student-athletes for the betterment of the school.

DeClerico, who is a three-sport athlete who also competed in freestyle on the men’s swimming team, cites the competitive nature of eSports as a key reason why he added a third sport.

“Playing video games has always been fun for me, but being able to play at a competitive, collegiate level gives me a reason to practice and play the game,” said DeClerico, a business administration major. “I have always been a very competitive person, so this has been pretty impactful on my life.”

The four will continue their competitive pursuits for LVC in the fall. Towers and DeClerico, the two graduating seniors, will return to LVC for their MBA degree while continuing their Dutchmen athletics careers.