Q&A: Keep off the Chalk
Karson Cullins, marketing junior and third-year outfielder for the Wolf Pack. ERIC BURAS
Karson Cullins speaks softly and carries a big bat. Actually, his bat is a standard size, but the quiet third-year outfielder has been putting up big offensive numbers since he arrived on campus his freshman year. Cullins, marketing junior, doesn't try to overthink his success. Leading the team in RBIs the last two seasons, he just tries to stay calm and swing easy.
Q: You probably grew up watching a lot of baseball. Who was one of your favorite players to watch?
KC: Favorite players growing up? Probably Vladimir Guerrero.
Q: Did you play any other sports in high school?
KC: I played four years of football in high school and four years of baseball.
Q: What made you choose to play baseball in college over football?
KC: I went out with a bang in baseball. Baseball's always been a little more special to me. I really enjoyed the art of the game, there's so much that goes into getting ready for baseball, so much in your swing, technique. And there's always a new day in baseball. Even if you have a bad day today, you can come out tomorrow and have a good one.
Q: Since you do play so many games, how do you balance baseball and your academic work?
KC: It's not easy, first of all. I commend all my teammates for keeping up with academics as well as baseball at this school. We're on the road a lot and you get on the bus, and most of the time we bring our book sacks and get work done. We take pride in not only baseball but also school, because school comes first. It's a challenge, but I make sure to get it done because that's the most important thing.
Q: You do a lot of your studying on the bus?
KC: On the bus, in the library, in the cafeteria, in the weight room, wherever you can get it done. We know that's the number one priority.
Q: If you're not doing homework, how do you stay entertained on those long bus rides?
KC: There's a lot of time to think. There are a lot of times to see the game play out, see yourself getting that big base hit before we get there.
Q: Do you have any superstitions like not stepping on the chalk lines or anything like that?
KC: I definitely do. Sometimes, if things are going really nice I just can't wash my socks. If someone's sitting in a certain spot when something good happens, you make sure they don't get up. You drink out of a certain water bottle, keep drinking out of it. A lot of people don't believe in superstitions, but most baseball players do. The baseball gods are up there, like Father Ted [Dziak] says.
Q: Is there anything you do to change up the mojo if things aren't going so well?
KC: I might lift my socks, lift my pants up, you know, wear it old school. Last season I had to get a haircut because sometimes you have to change it up a little bit. So either get a haircut or pick the pants legs up.
Q: Is there any sort of freshman initiation where you have one of the guys carry your bag or something like that?
KC: No, no freshman initiation. We try to treat the freshmen like they're one of our own. I remember when I first got here my freshman year, they didn't do anything but show love to me. So I try to show love to the freshmen like love was shown to me.
Q: How's your team looking for the start of the season?
KC: Man, we're looking sharp. We got a great new head coach, and his attention to detail is there. We're swinging, getting a lot of swings in the cages. The pitchers are working with coach Buddy [Turnage]. Coach Buddy really got them into shape this year. We're expecting to win a good number of games this year. We're not gonna lie down to anybody. Even though there is a lot of talent in the conference, we plan to make a statement.
Q: Every year they pick some standout players to be on the poster. Have you been on that?
KC: I haven't been on the poster. But I'm looking forward to being on it next year. I've been here for a good while now, but I think its kind of a senior thing, it's a privilege.
Q: If you could add one song to the pre-game playlist, what would it be?
KC: Let's go with "Keep on Smiling" by Wet Willie.
Q: Was it difficult to get excited for games when the seats were mostly empty?
KC: My dad is always there, and my mom. It's not very hard because they mean a lot to me. They're always there for me. I'll play in front of them any day, for sure.
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