This week’s athlete of the week is baseball player Ryan Koval.
Koval, a junior in justice studies, is a second-year player on the baseball team.
“…When I can, basketball is another sport I enjoy playing in my free time,” Koval said.
Koval is an outfielder for the Gorillas. He transferred to Pittsburg State from Wichita State University.
In 2020, Koval started in 20 of 21 games, batted .286 with 16 runs scored, six doubles, five home runs, and 20 RBIs.
As a student at Wichita State University, Koval redshirted in his only season at WSU in 2019.
In high school, Koval was a first-team Kansas Class 6A All-State performer as a senior at Olathe South High School in 2018. Additionally, Koval was a Rawlings Gold Glove selection. As a senior in high school, Koval it .390 and had a .500 on-base percentage. As a junior, he hit .328 with a .412 on-base percentage.
“I first started playing when I was… (about four) years old,” Koval said. “I played all four years in high school, and it was an easy decision to play in college.”
This past weekend, the baseball team swept a weekend series from Northwest Missouri (7-1, 6-3, 9-2).
“The main thing that I enjoy about baseball is the relationships I make with my teammates, along with it being a release away from school,” Koval said.
For some student-athletes, procrastination can be easy to fall into but according to Koval, the best way to balance academics and athletics is to not procrastinate.
“Balancing school and baseball can be challenging,” Koval said. “I would say the biggest thing is don’t wait until the last minute. I do my best to get assignments done before the weekend’s games.”
Athletics have always been a part of Koval’s life and has had a major impact on him.
“Sports mean a lot to me personally,” Koval said. “They have shaped who I have become today. It’s hard to explain everything… but if you ask most athletes, their sport has a very deep meaning to them. Personally, I had a tough year my freshman year at Wichita State, and that’s what my driving factor and motivation is.”
Koval’s biggest accomplishment of his athletic career came in high school.
“My biggest accomplishment athletically would be the gold glove award I received my senior year of high school, as I was one of nine players in the country to be awarded,” Koval said.
Like many athletes, Koval’s biggest supports are his family and coaches.
“My biggest supporters without a doubt have been my parents (and) family, along with the coaches from high school who have kept in touch with me,” Koval said.
The baseball team is currently 10-5 overall and 7-5 in conference play. The Gorillas have an upcoming weekend end series against Central Oklahoma in Edmond. Games one and two are on Saturday, Mar. 27 at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Game three is on Sunday, Mar. 28 at 1 p.m.