Becoming a division one athlete isn’t something that happens overnight. It takes time, hours of work and dedication, and a willingness to work even when people aren’t watching. And for those who are willing to put in that work and commitment, the results can be fruitful. No one would know this better than the 2019 Coronado High School graduate and current Xavier University Pitcher Luke McCollough.
McCollough’s journey to Division I baseball is unique. McCollough was a four-year varsity letterman during his time in Coronado and helped the program capture two CIF titles in those four years. “My four years playing for Coronado was huge and fundamental to my development as a player and a pitcher,” said MCCollough. “During my last two seasons, we were constantly playing (CIF) Division I and Division II teams, so I was constantly facing some of the best prep competition that I could. And that definitely helped make sure that I was always being challenged and on top of my game.”
Following his decorated four year run as an Islander, McCollough signed with the University of New Mexico. However, McCollough’s time as a New Mexico Lobo would be one that would be short-lived. “You know I got there, and it became apparent that it wasn’t a good fit. I didn’t gel there, and I thought it was best to leave and try to find somewhere else to play.” After this decision to leave New Mexico, the future became somewhat blurry for McCollough.
“There were a lot of options that I mulled over. There were opportunities to play Division II, but I wanted to make sure that I continued at the Division I level. When I entered the transfer portal, I did so in the winter, which is pretty rare. And I didn’t know if that would help or hurt me. For me, the biggest thing was finding the right situation.”
After some networking and reaching out to several Division I baseball programs, McCollough found the right situation, Xavier University located in Cincinnati, Ohio. I asked McCollough what drew him to the Xavier. “The decision to attend Xavier was an easy one. Xavier has very nice sports facilities for their student-athletes. A great weight room and recovery center. It was a huge improvement from my last school (New Mexico). I ultimately decided to go there because I felt I had a future there, and I’d fit in better. Xavier also had my desired major, which is sports management. So, it all came together perfectly.”
Though McCollough has reached the Division I level, the hard work is still there to be done. “My days revolve around baseball. I’ll wake up, usually have weights, then have my classes sometime in the afternoon. I then typically have a practice that starts at 2 p.m. and will run till about 6 p.m. It’s a constant grind, but I’ve enjoyed it all.”
And these long hours in the weight room and on the practice field with his coaches, McCollough already sees the fruits of his labor coming to life. “My coaches here at Xavier have helped me learn to pitch at the college level. We’ve worked hard on developing two new pitches, a 12-6 curveball and a slider, both of which have helped me miss more barrels here at the college level.”
As McCollough has continued to grow and develop at Xavier, it appears he will play a crucial part in the team’s quest to capture the 2020 Big East Championship. “Right now, I think I’ll be used in Long Relief situations and help eat innings when and where I’m needed. But I think when we get into Big East league play, I’ll have chances to get some starts on the mound during midweek games. I’m really just looking to help contribute in any way that the coaches need me to.”
Even though McCollough’s colligate career is still young, it’s hard not to wonder what his baseball future beyond the NCAA will look like. “I definitely want to play at the next level, and I know it will take a lot of work. But it’s works that I’m defiantly willing to put in. I want this.”