By Noah Gatsik | email@example.com
This season, the Saints baseball team has very high expectations. A main contributor to these lofty expectations is junior transfer student Kyle Bird. “Bird”, as his teammates refer to him, played the last two seasons for coach Mike Martin at Florida State University. Over those 2 seasons, Bird made 34 appearances all in relief. As a freshman, he pitched in the second game of the College World Series against the University of Arizona.
“Pitching in an atmosphere like that not even a year out of high school is something that can’t even really be explained,” Bird said. “I only faced two batters, but it was an experience I will never forget.”
After the 2013 season, Bird made it clear to the FSU staff that he believed he was a starter, not just a reliever. From there, they mutually decided to go their separate ways.
“It was honestly one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life,” Bird said. “I didn’t want to leave but I just felt like I worked hard enough to deserve the opportunity to start. They obviously had different feelings about it so we both decided that it would be best for me to explore other opportunities. Thankfully, Flagler was willing to give me that chance.”
The day after word got out that Bird was looking to transfer from FSU, Flagler alumni and current Los Angeles Dodger’s minor league first baseman John Sgromolo reached out to the Flagler coaching staff.
“I’ve known Bird for a long time,” Sgromolo said. “We grew up around the same area and are family friends. When I heard he was looking to transfer, I immediately reached out to the coaching staff. I just gave them my endorsement of Bird and told them that I thoroughly believed that Bird would be a huge asset to the team and the college.”
Less then a week later, Bird was committed to become a part of the Saint family.
“I had a long conversation with the coaches and John,” Bird said. “The coaches told me that they were not only willing to give me a chance, but told me that I would be given every opportunity to even become one of the leaders of the staff. Between that and John’s rave reviews of the program, I knew that Flagler was the right place for me.”
It didn’t take long for Bird to make his impact on the team. In one semester, he went from the “new kid” to team leader and has been named the teams number one pitcher. It didn’t take long for his teammates to notice something special about Bird either.
Andrew Castello, one of the teams leaders glows when talking about Bird.
“He came in and earned respect immediately,” Castello said. “He is a great teammate and very well liked not only on but off the field too. I think he is the best pitcher I have seen in the 4 years that I have been here. He is a natural leader and I am personally very excited to watch him lead the pitching staff this year. The sky really is the limit for him.”
Being a leader is one of the most undervalued attributes in an athlete because that is something you just can’t really teach. During his time at FSU, Bird was teammates with Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston.
“Jameis is the definition of a natural leader,” Bird said. “He just knows what to say and how to get the best out of people. He is a natural motivator and I believe that just being around that has made me a better motivator and teammate.”
With the season set to begin Feb. 1, Bird is ready and eager to get the season underway.
“I’m honored to have been named the team’s ace to start the season,” Bird said. “I’m just ready to go out there and do the best I can to contribute to the success of this team. It’s going to be a fun season and I really can’t wait to get started.”