Bobby Chu went from being cut in high school to a catcher with the Golden Eagles.
Redwood City, Calif.
(1,871 miles from Crookston)
Exercise Science and Wellness
How did you make your way to the University of Minnesota Crookston?
Through a city college in San Francisco, our coach, Mario Mendoza, played under Coach [Steve] Gust. So we had a little connection there. He told me about [Gust], I came in came in contact with Coach Gust and the rest is kind of history.
Were you only drawing interest from Crookston while in city college?
I had scholarship offers from Bemidji, I was in contact with the University of Mary, University of Jamestown and a lot of schools in this area.
What drew you to the city college out of high school?
I was cut in high school, and the city college coach saw me throwing the ball around. He needed a catcher, so he wondered if I would go out for him. I did, and I made All-Conference there for two years.
Was the city college your only option out of high school?
I had a couple DIII schools in the west coast looking at me. It just didn’t work out with the money and whatnot. So I chose to go to city college, and I was hoping for anyone to look at me and offer me a scholarship. So I got lucky there.
Did you make a visit to Crookston before deciding to move here? How did you eventually decide to come to Crookston?
I did a visit last April. Our current assistant coach, James Cullinane, I played with him in city college. So he took me around here and showed me the ropes. The culture on the team was a lot different than what my high school had, and what city college had. It was more of a brotherhood than anything I’ve ever seen. Baseball is a game where you’ve got to grind it out, so you need to have brothers with you.
Were you looking to venture a decent distance away from home?
I was looking to get away. California, especially where I’m from, it’s really busy. A lot of people, a lot of traffic. I was commuting an hour one way from my school and back home, which was rough because it was only 20 miles away.
What was your first impression to go from a large city to a rural area?
It was a really big shock. It’s a lot slower pace, but I kind of like that. Coming from somewhere where you’ve got to go, go, go, it gets tiring. Now, I get to focus on baseball and school.
How often do get to go home?
I probably won’t go back home until summer. In the fall, I went home for Thanksgiving and Christmas break.
Does your family often visit you in Crookston?
No. They haven’t really seen the snow, so they’re a little nervous about that. I come from a fairly big family, so it’s kind of a struggle to get them out here.
Was your family welcoming to the idea of you moving two time zones away?
They were a little hesitant at first, especially because I don’t have anyone of blood relation here. But they knew I wanted to spread my wings and get out of California. They knew it would be good for me.
How did you deal with your first Crookston winter?
I thought it started in October when it first snowed. I was a little shaken by that. The blizzard days where we cut school off was a little different. I think the first blizzard day, I tried to go outside and I was like, “Yeah, that’s not happening.”
How long have you been playing baseball?
I think 17 years when I turn 22.
How does your baseball program at your high school and city college differ from Crookston’s?
Our high school, Junipero Serra, has produced over a dozen professional ballplayers. Barry Bonds came from my high school, and so did Tom Brady. My high school was pretty big as far as sports go. It was pretty tough. The guy who was catching at the time, he’s now with the Dodgers organization. As far as city college to here, it is baseball all the time. In San Francisco, we didn’t have a field on campus, so we’d only be able to practice three hours. Here, I can go hit in the cage for as long as I want on my own.
What other sports did you play in high school?
I played football until my junior year. They wondered why I quit football to focus on baseball even after I was cut. It was just the love of the game. Football was fun, but at the same time, it wasn’t a super love for the game. Especially with my size and weight, I wouldn’t be very physically inclined to play football.
How do you feel traveling over 1,000 miles for school benefitted you?
It’s made me grow up. I can’t go home on a three-day weekend. I still got to do my work, get laundry done and fend for my own meals. Without a car, it’s made me plan when I can get a ride, and how I can get groceries.
How long did it take you to get comfortable living in Crookston?
I would say until the second semester. My first semester here in the fall was a little rough. Just the big transition, I was a little shaky on how to get used to it. Then I went home, and when I came back, I kind of missed the low-key type of environment.
How did the team assist you in getting acclimated to living here?
My two roommates, Graeme Cherry and Wyatt Peppel, have been a big help to me. They both have cars, so I’m always asking them for a ride. There’s times where I ask if I need to bring thermals, and they’re like, “Bring double the thermals you usually bring.”
Where do you plan on living when you finish school?
My goal is to go to grad school hopefully in California for physical therapy. Then, I’m hoping to pick up a clinic or work for a clinic and live the remainder of my life in California. Probably not San Francisco, but somewhere in California where it’s a happy medium between the low-key environment here and the weather in California.
What advice would you give to someone considering going far away from home for school?
I’d just say you’re not alone in it. There’s not much to really stress about. For people like me, we stress a lot about the future. Leaving the nest is kind of nerve-wrecking, but it’s not as bad as you would think. You’re going to find people you’re going to be connected with, and you’re going to be stronger for leaving the nest, and learn what to do on your own.
Did you ever think you’d learn that lesson in Minnesota with the closest metropolitan area hours away?
I didn’t think that was going to happen. I knew how small the town was. I thought I kind of new what I had to do when I was back home. It was definitely different the amount of independence that you need versus what you think you need. It definitely helped me mature in life and baseball.
How will the remainder of your collegiate career go since you came from a city college?
I have two more years. I’ll have to take another year after baseball to finish up.
So you came to Crookston for baseball, but you will have to finish school here without playing on the team. How do you think you’ll handle that?
I try not to think about it, because I feel like it’ll be a grim day when it all comes to an end. I love baseball, so it’s hard to think about. I know I’ll probably make my way to the cage as long as coach allows it. I’m always going to be in love with the game. I’ll probably have something to do with baseball while I’m here, but I’m not sure what.
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