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Athlete of the week: Ricky Conti ’19

in Athlete of the Week/Men/Season/Sports/Spring by

Ricky Conti 19, a junior right-handed pitcher from Claremont, Calif. has started the 2018 baseball season off hot, and is currently tied for first in the Centennial Conference for the most wins in games pitched. Conti has appeared in five games so far, and won four in 24 innings pitched. He has struck out an impressive 27 batters, with a season high of nine strikeouts in a win over Stockton University. The team as a whole carries an impressive 12-5 record as they begin conference play, and next take the field on Friday at 3 p.m. at Elizabethtown College.

Ping Promrat: What is your major, and what made you decide to choose it?

Ricky Conti: I’m a mathematics and economics double major. I love how with math you prove cool theories and stuff. Some of the stuff we have gone over in class is out of this world. I also appreciate the objective nature of mathematics. Although there may be different ways to solve a problem or prove a theorem, there is a correct answer in the end. It’s the thrill of the chase that gets me going! With regard to economics, I think the subject is absolutely vital in creating a more well-rounded person, one of the true goals of the liberal arts. Having a functional understanding of money and markets is important for anybody looking to make an impact on the world. Intro to Econ should be a graduation requirement in my humble opinion.

PP: What brought you to play baseball as a kid?

RC: Baseball is such a beautiful sport. It’s really unique in the way that is constructed. In most sports, there is a clock, so you have to rush to get things done. Similarly, getting pumped up before the game can make a positive impact on one’s play. Baseball is a little different. Staying calm, cool, and collected  (basically being able to control your emotions) is huge, especially as a pitcher. I can take my time out on the mound, knowing that every inning, all I need to do is get three outs.

PP: How did you find out about Swarthmore in the recruiting process?

RC: Being from Southern California, a lot of college coaches came to my area to recruit. I was recruited by a lot of schools on the West Coast, and a good amount from the Midwest and Northeast. So Swat really came to me. I didn’t really vibe with this part of the country, especially for how cold the Northeast is. However, the coaches seemed like they really were diggin’ what I was dealin’, and that was big for me in the recruiting process, so I gave Swat a go.

PP: What is the best class you’ve taken at Swat and why?

RC: That’s a tough question. Although figuring out a number one is hard, making a top three is easy. I really liked Astro 1 with Professor Aaron Grocholski. Learning about like the universe, planets, stars, and stuff was pretty cool, especially since I had never taken a class like that. Macroeconomics is also a top choice for me. Professor Mark Kuperberg knows how to teach, so I learned tons and really valued the class. The last one I’ll mention is Math 57 with Professor Noah Giansiracusa. The class places a huge emphasis on collaboration, which has actually really helped me learn the material.

PP: What are the greatest difficulties in being a student-athlete?

RC: The biggest struggle a student-athlete could have is being truly passionate about both. Some might say it’s like having a crush on two different people. No matter how you want to phrase it, more time for one means less time for the other. If I had it my way, I would be able to spend as much time in the gym and in the cage as I wanted, while being able to go back to my dorm and pause time to finish all my work. Unfortunately, I have only so much time and energy to give, so I make the best of it everyday.

PP: How does it feel to be tied for first in the conference for pitchers in wins? What are the team’s expectations for conference play this year?

RC: That makes me happy because if I’m winning games, that means my team is winning games. My job is to go out there and, pitch by pitch, help my team win. That being said, there is a ton of work left to be done and lots of season left. If I finished my season with the same number of wins as I have now, I wouldn’t be too happy. We have a lot of important games left on the schedule, and those games aren’t going to win themselves. We fully expect to win the conference. That’s why we have morning runs, team lifts, and team practices. We don’t do all those things, and more, in hopes of being average. We do all those things because we know the work it takes to become a championship team, so we do that work.

PP: Lastly, give me your three favorite things about California.

RC: I know I talk a lot about being from the greatest state in the country, so it feels good to finally be able to write about it on paper. For starters, that’s where my family is and that’s where I’m from. Being from California is definitely a piece of my identity that I hold close. I was born and raised in the suburbs of the Los Angeles area. Pretty much, home is where the heart is. Second is the sunshine and weather. I’ve been to many states, so I can surely tell you that a sunny day in California is so much different from a sunny day anywhere else. Being able to walk outside in shorts and a T-shirt during the winter months is something I surely miss. It has never snowed in my area, which I definitely appreciate. Third is the culture. From the people to the food, California is pretty awesome all around. We Californians are very laid back people that enjoy spending time outside and aim for a life free of stress. However, we are also ambitious and curious people who enjoy experiencing new things, while also being very dedicated to whatever our craft is. The Mexican food is as authentic as you can get. We are also home to the greatest hamburger restaurant of all-time, In-N-Out. There’s no arguing that.

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