Albaugh Learns to Lead


Jake Albaugh hoists the baseball team’s MVP belt.

     Looking out over the baseball field, Jake Albaugh will be talking to younger players on the baseball team, such as sophomores Jacob Cramer and Louis Amatucci, guiding them through the early times of their baseball careers. As one of the seniors on the team, Jake takes on a big brother role to help his fellow teammates through a grueling season and challenging times. The role he now embraces is not an accident. It’s a challenge he accepted because he knows how much he needed help during his younger days.

     Jake admits that he was not a “good” kid during his freshman year. “I didn’t care about school at all. I was super selfish,” Jake said. “I was just a bad kid. I did not care about baseball. I went to one lifting, and when I was there, I tried to hurt a kid and never came back. It was pretty rough during my freshman year.”

     Becoming a strong leader does not happen quickly; it took time for Albaugh to reach the point he’s at today. After his freshman year, he handled his behavioral issues, but school still stood in the way of his baseball aspirations. He skipped school and received poor grades in many of his classes. A conversation with Coach Basciano made him change his mentality. During that conversation, Coach Basciano told him the path he was on would cause him to be off the team. At that moment, Jake’s perspective took a 180. He remembers the moment vividly to this day.

     “We were in the gym that day. We set up a fake mound, and I was pitching well. I felt like nothing could touch me. Then, Coach Basciano pulled me over with the other coaches and said he knew I was lying to him about my grades. I tried to work my way out of it and lie out of it. After so long, I gave up and admitted that it was bad and I was struggling. He told me I could come back if I wanted to, but I didn’t have an equal shot as everyone else to make the team. He said grades come first, and that’s all they were looking at,” Albaugh stated. 

     “After that, every Wednesday morning, I would show him my grades. I feel like that’s what changed in me. It made me put in effort that I didn’t show before. Once I did it the first week, I told myself, ‘I can do this. I can actually do this.’ It gave me the motivation to come back.” 

     “I can thank most of my turnaround to Coach Basciano. He pushed me in the right direction, and he’s like a father figure to me.” The message clicked with Albaugh and guided him down the right path. Jake has been able to use his new outlook on leadership to become a role model for the younger players on the team.

     The squad consists of multiple freshmen and sophomores that mostly play JV, but are mentored by older players like Albaugh at practice. Jake and the other veterans on the team know that the future of the program is in their hands.

     “Our team is really young this year, so you have to offer constructive criticism in a really good way. They’re younger and immature. They don’t take criticism well,” Albaugh said. “I don’t want these kids to be like I was as a freshman. I want to set them down the right path earlier than I was.”

     As Jake learned, the classroom is as important as what happens on the field. He wants his younger teammates to understand that too. “You can’t play if you have bad grades.” 

     The coaches on the baseball team, especially Coach Basciano, emphasize to every player on the team that school is the number one priority. All players are held to the same standard of maintaining a 2.5 GPA and will be cut if they cannot meet their school requirements.

     “In the offseason, I was told I would be a big part of the team. As a big part of the team, I think that I need to be a big part of the classroom, too. When younger kids see me doing it, they’ll want to do it,” Albaugh stated. 

     He wants his efforts in school to motivate those around him to follow suit. It’s important for him to show his teammates how to balance athletics and academics effectively. He believes that his example will help them find success in both facets of their lives. More than anything, Jake wants to have an impact off the field as much as on the field. 

      The 21-22 baseball team has a band-of-brothers mentality off the field that has allowed them to find success on the field. Albaugh credits their bond as another reason he became a leader. Jake stated, “After all that time, the bond you have with them is special. As a senior, you feel like you’re a big brother to all the younger guys. You want to see them succeed, so you do everything possible to help them start their career strong. Our bond pushed me and motivated me to be where I am now.”

      The team keeps the same goal. Every player wants to go back to the state championship like the 2017 team. Not only is that a goal, but Albaugh and the team believe they can make it there if they continue to stay as united as they are now. “I want to see us bond together as a team and enjoy baseball,” Jake said. “If you don’t enjoy it, you won’t succeed.”

      Enjoying baseball as a team is Jake’s biggest goal for the senior season. He wants to be a catalyst for a great team and a state championship run. As the season goes on, Albaugh will continue to lead his teammates through the good times and the bad. 

     He knows what a freshman might be feeling because he’s been there. He’s felt like he can do no wrong. He thought he was the best player out there. Those experiences allowed him to turn his life around and become a better man on and off the baseball diamond. It may not have happened overnight, but the journey is something Jake will remember for the rest of his life. 

     He became the role model he saw in Coach Basciano and now has leadership abilities that he can continue to use and develop in his future endeavors.