WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — It's been nearly a year since baseball players like Jarrett Hammel had to change course. St. Joe college closed its doors, which meant Hammel and teammates had decisions to make.
"Our coach just took us in right after the meeting and said, 'hey, you guys are like my sons, I'm going to find you somewhere to go,'" said Hammel.
Some athletes hang up their cleats when programs are cut or schools close, but Hammel always knew he had the fire to play. He just needed the right school to call.
"I knew I was going to play but I just wanted to find the right fit for me," said Hammel. "All around both academically and obviously baseball-wise."
A huge part of that decision concerned his loved ones in Newton County.
"I'm really close to my family, so I wanted to go to a college that was close to home but kind of molded me into a better person not only as an athlete but as a person coming out of college," said Hammel.
Cue Valparaiso University. The small Division 1 school in northwest Indiana called Hammel, and the glove fit.
"He had mentioned that family was important and it was just kind of a natural fit at that point," said Valpo Head Baseball Coach Brian Schmack.
Schmack was impressed with the big left-hander's talent, but something else clicked.
"Yeah he's a gentle giant, I mean you look at his stature and he's a big kid but he's very quiet," said Schmack. "He's a very respectful kid very hard worker, ya know? 'Yes sir, coach, whatever you want me to do,' type stuff."
Just a few of the traits Hammel's mother, Pam, has always known he's had.
"Nothing ceases to amaze us with Jarrett because he gives it his all and he works hard so we knew the transition might be a little rough but he seems to be getting along fine," said Pam Hammel.
In the end, Hammel has been humbled by his already crazy college journey.
"Fortunate enough to be granted a scholarship close to home and be able to play the game that I love."