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On the Mound with Jonathan Lewis: From Fresh Meadows to Stony Brook

In the first “On the Mound with Jonathan Lewis,” he discusses the factors that led to his decision to attend Stony Brook, where he has emerged as one of the top pitchers in the America East conference.

How did I even end up at Stony Brook?

This is a question I have been asked a million times and I have probably asked myself the same question even more. I was born and raised in Queens, attended Francis Lewis High School and played varsity baseball for coach Randy James.

Overall I had a good high school career and even won the Iron Horse award in 2001 for the city’s top player. My senior year was filled with a lot of pressure because I had no idea where I was going to play college baseball.

I had been contacted by more than 60 schools, some of which we have all heard of and others I had no idea existed.

At first it was very exciting. But as time went on with no college choice yet, I really felt the pressure. I had to make the most important decision in my life and try to please everyone while doing it.

In most athletes’ careers this will be the hardest and most important decision. I wanted to follow my family’s wishes and stay in the tri-state area. My friends and teammates wanted me to go to the biggest named schools that called me. They didn’t care if I’d play right away (or at all) or how much scholarship money they offered.

I had a successful senior year summer with coach Ian Millman and the Long Island Cardinals (now Team NY Cardinals), and at the USABF world series in San Diego we beat one of the best teams in the country.

After that game, Arizona State called to find out if I was still available. Even a Division I Junior College in Arizona called; however, I had just committed to Stony Brook University on Long Island.

This decision had a lot of factors, and I was satisfied with my choice even though very few people other than my family understood why. Stony Brook was very involved with me from the previous fall.

They had kept their scholarship offer on the table the whole winter and never pressured me into “taking it or else,” like other schools did. They had had a couple players drafted, Joe Nathan, who is now in the Major Leagues.

Also they offered me a chance to pitch right away and not be buried on the bench like I might have been at larger schools. They were far enough away from home so I could dorm but close enough should my family need me. I sometimes wonder what it would have been like to go to one of the big schools, but I’m still getting some recognition here and helping the program get on the map.

I’ve gotten a good education and made great friends. Even at “little” Stony Brook (as my friends call it and make fun of where I went), I was an honorable mention freshman all-American and rookie of the year in my conference.

Last summer I was fortunate and privileged enough to play for Hyannis in the prestigious Cape Cod league. This year is my most pressure-filled yet because I am wondering what lies ahead in my baseball future — and if there will be an open door for me to play at the next level.

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