Any boy who grew up with his hand in a baseball glove and a bat on his shoulder dreams of making it to the big leagues.
For Belmont senior Nate Woods, the past four years has brought him even closer to reaching his dream.
Even before he came to Belmont, Woods’ life always had room for baseball.
“I know my dad has been throwing me balls in the backyard ever since I could swing a bat,” he said.
Woods’ passion for baseball followed him from elementary school to high school in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where his athletic ability caught the attention of Belmont head baseball coach Dave Jarvis.
Jarvis and his staff spotted Woods at a Midwest showcase the summer before his senior year in high school.
“We invited him in for a visit that fall and after his visit, his parents and he decided they would sign a letter of intent to come here and play baseball,” Jarvis said.
The following summer—before he would enter Belmont as a freshman—Woods was given another option. In June the Los Angeles Dodgers drafted him in the 28th round.
“I was just fortunate enough to be seen,” Woods said. “They liked me and it was quite an honor.”
Despite the opportunity he had to play in the pros, Woods still had Belmont on his mind.
“I weighed my options—school or sign with the Dodgers,” he said. “School and a degree in four years would be worth more than maybe one, two or even five years in the minor leagues, maybe not even making the major leagues.”
With education his top priority, Woods made the decision to play at Belmont as a pitcher, designated hitter and right fielder. His freshman season was a successful one, as his 48 strikeouts earned him a spot on the Atlantic Sun All-Freshman team. Early in his sophomore year, a broken wrist and a torn foot ligament ended his season after nine games.
“It was a heartbreaking loss not only for him, but for our team as well,” Jarvis said.
With encouragement from family, friends and teammates, Woods put in time and effort to get back on the field. Once his injuries healed, he was ready to make up for lost time.
Last season, Woods became one of only three Bruins to start all 54 season games, and he set single-season records that included 20 home runs and 78 RBIs.
A team captain this year, Woods will continue his last college baseball season for two weeks following graduation with the hope of winning the Atlantic Sun Championship, which will be played at Lipscomb University May 26-29. He will then set his sights on the MLB draft in June.
Woods is still optimistic about his chances of playing pro ball, but feels he made the right decision by getting his degree.
Belmont has been a great fit, he said. “It’s been unbelievable and I wouldn’t change it or trade Belmont for anything.”
If Woods is not signed, the information systems management major would like to start his own business, maybe a restaurant.
“I cross my fingers and hope I get an opportunity to go play. If that doesn’t happen, then I guess I have to go join the work force,” Woods said.