By David Jacob
Seventh grade. That is the grade freshmen this year were entering as Quincy University red shirt senior pitcher Nick Stroud started at Quincy University. It has been a long road for the senior as he has been sidelined with two Tommy John surgeries that had ended his season before it started. Tommy John surgery, more properly known as ulner collateral ligament reconstruction, is a surgical operation in which a ligament in the medial elbow is replaced with a tendon from somewhere else in the body, often from the forearm, hamstring, or foot.
“After I got the news that I was having a second surgery in two years, I’ll admit it was a struggle. There were times it was hard to get up and go through the rehab process again,” Stroud said.
Stroud was a starter for the 2013 baseball team his freshman year. The following year he had his first Tommy John surgery. Then in his rehab process, his elbow popped again and had to have yet another surgery. He took a year off of school in the 2015-2016 school year and lived in Quincy while working maintenance for the Quincy Country Club. The following season, Stroud got back on the mound for the first time in three years in a limited role. Getting back to his roots in the 2018 season, Stroud worked his way to a weekend starter.
Head baseball coach Josh Rabe has high praise for Stroud.
“When you have a player for this long, he is more than just a player. Nick is like a son to me and I truly pull for the kid because I know he has worked extremely hard to get back to full strength,” Rabe said. “Two major surgeries in back-to-back seasons is tough. I am so proud at how he has bounced back and worked his way back into the starting lineup.”
Stroud was uncertain if he was going to be cleared by the NCAA this year. He was unable to participate in outside competition during the fall. It was not until mid-October that the NCAA cleared Stroud for his sixth year of eligibility.
“It was always in the back of my mind that I may not be able to play this year. It was a long process, but I was still able to get my work in while I was waiting to be cleared so it was not too terribly bad,” Stroud said.
For the past four years, Stroud has woken up at 5 a.m. to start his day working at the country club. He then gets back in the afternoon or late morning depending on his school schedule and goes to class. Once that is over, he goes to practice and then lifts afterwards.
“By the end of the day, I am pretty beat. I like to unwind by swimming or getting in the hot tub to relax, hang out with my roommates, and listen to music to fall asleep,” Stroud said.
Stroud is poised to have his best season yet. “I have given my last seven years to this program. I want to go out, give it my all, and see where this season takes me,” Stroud concluded.
The Hawks open their season Saturday, February 16th in Clinton, Mississippi in a double header against Mississippi College. Stroud is looking to help out his team to a third consecutive Great Lakes Valley Conference Championship and a fifth consecutive Midwest Regional appearance.