It was the beginning of the end for Karl Quist, as he boarded flight number 408 for Phoenix, Ariz. early in March. The Springfield College baseball team set out to start its season over spring break. Facing a variety of teams the Pride pulled together a 6-2 record to bring back to the east coast. The senior designated hitter and first baseman personally showed his true feelings of his final season through his performances.
Quist contributed greatly throughout the week, starting off with three hits in a season-opening 10-9 victory over Rockford College. He finished the week with a .486 average.
“It was awesome playing in Arizona. I felt great about the upcoming season, but I‘ve still got that unsettling feeling in my stomach of this being my last season,” Quist said. “Pretty soon I’ve gotta grow up and go out into the real world.”
The 6-foot-1-inch senior from New Preston, Conn. has come a long way from his tee ball days. Growing up in an extremely baseball-rich town, Quist was destined to play, as his father told stories of him being “born with a ball in his hand.”
Through tee ball, Little League and various summer leagues, Quist had shown talent from behind home plate; he was a catcher through his four years at Shepaug Valley High School. In his offseason Quist stayed in shape by playing halfback and fullback for Shepaug’s soccer team in the fall and moved back and forth from shooting guard to forward in the winter basketball season.
He proved himself as an all-around athlete as well as an all-around student.
“I’d say my favorite class was probably math,” Quist said while widening his bright blue eyes. “My math teacher was pretty hot, but my favorite subject was P.E. by far.”
He considered himself “a slightly above average” student throughout Shepaug in a relatively small class of about 105 students.
In New Preston the Quist family is well-known to most; having grown up there for generations. Karl’s father, John Quist, was not only good friends with all the baseball coaches, he had also grown up with them and coached baseball a bit himself too.
In Quist’s spare time growing up, he and the neighborhood kids would come together, sandlot style, to play ball.
“Since we lived on a farm, my yard was always the biggest and the flattest so it’s where we all met up to play,” he explained.
Though baseball seemed to be the only activity for this shy farm boy, Quist also greatly enjoyed hunting in his free time. If his camouflage crocs and matching baseball cap don’t express his love for the sport, then the deer skulls and antlers hanging in his senior suite living room do.
Quist also likes to travel. He and his roommates took a relaxing and adventurous trip to Cancun last winter break. With many other interests such as girls, teaching and just hanging out with friends, nothing compares to Quist’s love for baseball.
With the support of his coaches believing in their star player, the support of his family and community attending every home game, including that “left field crew—the guys who were always out barbequing and drinking just past the left field fence,” Quist had to make the decision of where to attend college.
He had grown up surrounded by teaching and wanting to become a teacher himself. His mother taught third grade and his uncle was a PE teacher. Quist looked into Keene State College and Springfield for their Physical Education programs. The tiebreaker was the advice his aunt gave to him that Springfield was a great school and that he’d love it there. She attended Springfield for physical therapy. His coaches from New Preston had also attended Springfield as well, so naturally this is where Quist decided to go.
Accepted and excited, he was on his way to becoming a PE teacher. He landed a starting position on the baseball team too.
His college career started from behind home plate, and he was very successful there until his junior year when a freshman Sean Smith came to replace him at his position. Quist was moved to first base, an unknown territory to him.
“I didn’t hate Sean for taking my position,” Quist confessed. “I was a little upset I wouldn’t be where I’ve played my whole life, but Sean’s a great kid and first base isn’t so bad.”
However, halfway through his junior year, Quist faced a challenge on a seemingly routine play. At first base, he stretched his long arm toward the outfield to catch an infielder’s throw.
“I came off the bag a little to get the ball, and when I went back to the bag I looked up as some kid came by and threw his elbow up and hit me right here,” he said, pointing towards his temple.
The resulting concussion took him out of his favorite game for three weeks.
Quist believes the injury set him back as a hitter a year ago, but this season he has come back in a big way. He currently leads the 12-11 Pride in hitting with a .391 batting average.
“It probably added to some of his struggles last year, but he’s been healthy this whole year and is tough as nails,” said head coach Mark Simeone.
Simeone is proud of Quist in his final season.
“He is an exemplary student athlete on this campus and certainly an exemplary baseball player in our program,” Simeone added. “He’s an outstanding teammate, and a guy who’s having the best year of his career so far.”
Quist’s best friend, roommate since sophomore year (and partner in crime), Mike Corletta, is not surprised to see Quist succeed during their senior year.
“Karl is exceptionally hardworking and always goes the extra mile in order to be successful. It is without surprise that he is having his best season ever in his final year of baseball.”
Looking back, Quist explains how accomplished he feels with his college career.
“I’m very happy with it. I’ve had a lot of fun. I feel prepared for life after school and I’ve made mom proud,” he said.
He sees himself in three years hopefully teaching at Belchertown Elementary School, where he had worked as a student teacher and also where a position has recently opened up. He also hopes to coach baseball. Quist has made his supportive parents extremely proud. It was his mother’s optimism that drove his motivation to get out of his small town roots after graduation and explore more job opportunities.
As Quist suits up in his Springfield uniform with the number 21 printed on his back, he’s one game closer to the end of his playing days. The end of the road is near and a new chapter is beginning in his life.
Full of anxiousness, excitement and terror, Quist will head out into the “real world” to pursue a dream, to finally live the life he’s been working so hard to get towards.
Though the shock of not playing baseball anymore will be difficult, he feels ready to move on and succeed.