The unflappable focus of right-hander Kyle Hendricks ’12 in the National League Championship Series win that sent the Chicago Cubs to their first World Series in 71 years was evident in his commitment to both pitching and academics at Dartmouth, say those who knew him as an undergraduate.
“It was really obvious to me from the very beginning that he’s a kid who didn’t just pay lip service to the idea of excelling as an athlete and as a student,” says head coach Bob Whalen a 27-year veteran of Dartmouth’s baseball program.
“He really wanted to be good. He said to me from the beginning of the recruiting process that he wanted to go to the best school he could get into, but not at the expense of giving up his lifelong dream of pitching at the Major League level.”
Hendricks’ commitment to Dartmouth is widely reported in the sports media. During the National League Championship Series, Fox Sports 1 announcer Ken Rosenthal quoted Whalen, saying the assurance that Hendricks would be able to start in his first year at the College sealed the deal to bring him to Hanover.
But it was the commitment of Hendricks and his parents to his education that gave Dartmouth the edge, says his former coach, who recruited the righty out of Capistrano Valley High School in California. In fact, Hendricks passed on an offer during his senior year of high school to play for the Los Angeles Angels so he could attend Dartmouth.
“He’s a very bright kid. School is very important to him and always was. He was a major in economics, and always did well in his classes. He tutored other players on the team—even kids on other teams—in math if they needed help, because he knew the difficulty of being an athlete and being a student. And he was just a good friend,” Whalen says.
He was a good teammate, as well. As a freshman in 2009, Hendricks won the clinching game of the Ivy League Championship Series, pitching 7.1 shutout innings to advance Dartmouth to their first NCAA regional tournament in 22 years.
“I’ve always felt—and we say this to recruits—one of the greatest things about Dartmouth is we only want to recruit kids who want to be great at both school and baseball, without having to choose one over the other,” Whalen says.
Dartmouth professors share this commitment to educating the whole person, he says. “The faculty are supportive of the dreams and ambitions of all the young people who are here, and I think they do a great job of that.”
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