Top of his field

Sam+Bryan%2C+junior%2C+sits+inside+Kirkwood+High+Schools+home+dugout.

Sophie Smith

Sam Bryan, junior, sits inside Kirkwood High Schools home dugout.

With a neutral expression on his face Sam Bryan, junior, makes his way to his first hour. His quiet demeanor may keep him from standing out, but Bryan has done something most students would be instantly recognized for. He recently committed to University of Missouri (Mizzou) to play Division 1 baseball in the South Eastern Conference. 

“I’m constantly working, never taking a day off,” Bryan, pitcher,  said. “Every school day, I wake up early to go get a workout in and after school I go workout again. Work ethic and constant dedication have gotten me to where I am today.”

Bryan said Adam Jansen, his pitching coach, has been a huge part of his success. Jansen works with Bryan three days a week to make sure his arm is in good shape, enabling him to perform at the highest level when he takes the field. 

“[Bryan is the] hardest worker in the gym,” Jansen said. “[He is] a kid who, if given the chance, would probably pitch a baseball seven days a week. He’s a very competitive kid too. I think he plays the game for the right reasons. He truly wants to be the best at his craft.”

According to Bryan, to become successful in baseball you must work very hard. He constantly works with Jansen in order to find ways to become better. Trying to improve on last season’s success at Kirkwood where, through seven games, he posted a 3.82 ERA, with a 2-0 record, one save and 13 strikeouts including a 10 inning hitless streak according to STL today.

“He’s always had that natural drive, he was born with it,” Jansen said. “He enjoys himself whether he’s lifting weights or throwing a baseball and he never has a bad day. He always wants to show up to the gym and give it his all that day.”

Bryan said he appreciates all his coaches have done for him, crediting them for his success. Constantly making him work harder to become better and showing him the correct way to play the game. Bryan also has a 4.0 cumulative G.P.A. and takes classes in honors and AP. One of these classes, German Ⅳ Honors, taught by Larry Anderson who has had Sam as a student for his whole tenure at Kirkwood High School. 

He has a strong passion for playing the game. I think, like everyone else, he wants to be really good but what sets him apart is that he has dreams and goals of playing at the highest level possible.”

— Adam Jansen

“He’s very talented and unassuming. It’s like there’s a lot underneath the surface, that you don’t know unless you truly get to know Sam,” Anderson said. “He doesn’t brag about doing well because of his quiet personality. I don’t think people know that he does well.”

In order to appeal to college coaches the player not only needs to be talented on the field but in the classroom as well, Bryan said. Ultimately, what the coaches can do is save part of their athletic scholarships for other players by giving some academic scholarships to others. This is important because there are no full rides in baseball. There are only so many scholarships to split between a whole team, so this means that one player may get 40% of a scholarship and another may get the other 60%. 

“For baseball, I need to do well in school,” Bryan said. “In college, there are only 11.7 scholarships for 35 players on a roster. No one gets a full ride [for athletics] so they add in academic money into your total scholarship as well.”

Byran said getting to the next level is just one goal on the list, succeeding is the second step. He is working to improve himself to be ready for his future of college baseball. As a pitcher, it is Bryans job is to get the opposing batters out, using the pitches he has at his command. Bryan said he has struggled in the past with being able to consistently throw strikes as stated by Jansen and himself, regardless both believe he has the ability to succeed at the next level. 

“He gets a ton of natural movement, but he’s had trouble with command in the past,” Jansen said. “Part of the reason he’s at Mizzou right now is because he has gained more command compared to the last couple years.”

Bryan has dreams of not only playing at the college level but professionally as well, even though only about 9.1 percent of college baseball players move on to play professional baseball. Jansen believes Bryan has the ability and the drive to achieve his dreams. 

“He has a strong passion for playing the game,” Jansen said. “I think, like everyone else, he wants to be really good but what sets him apart is that he has dreams and goals of playing at the highest level possible.”