Weston Lombard ’21: “It’s Bigger Than Baseball”

The former Gustie pitcher now plays Division I baseball at the University of San Francisco, forgoing his original post-grad plans to chase his dream.
Posted on March 2nd, 2022 by

Forgoing his original career plans, the Gustavus pitcher made the leap to play Division I baseball at the University of San Francisco. It’s led to the career path of his dreams.

The four years that Weston Lombard ’21 pitched for the Gustavus baseball team were filled with team successes. Reaching playoffs for the first time in a decade his freshman year, winning the MIAC championship his sophomore year, and becoming nationally ranked for the first time in program history his senior year.

Weston Lombard ’21 now plays Division I baseball at the University of San Fransisco.

It also came with setbacks, namely the COVID-19 pandemic that took away Lombard’s junior year season. The news came while the team was in Tucson, Ariz., eagerly awaiting the chance to play after their second game was rained out.  

“We got a phone call before my first start that we had to go home, and our season was over,” Lombard remembered. “We’re a close team, always excited for what we can do for the season, and to have that taken away was pretty tough.” 

Though Lombard didn’t know it at the time, losing out on his 2020 season would ultimately lead to his dream of playing Division I baseball at the University of San Francisco and pursuing a career in sports management.

“He worked his tail off, and that’s what set him apart,” said head baseball coach Brad Baker ’80. “We tell every recruit here that you get one crack at life, so take a big swing. Well, Weston took a big swing, and we all couldn’t be happier for him.”

For someone who’s made the sport a central theme of his life, it’s a wonder that his college baseball career almost never happened. “My main sport in high school was hockey,” said Lombard, who played baseball and football on the side. “I wasn’t even planning on playing baseball in college.”

It was an unexpected recruiting letter for baseball that opened him up to the idea of playing in the MIAC at the Division III level. During his college search, Baker stood out as someone who cared about more than Lombard’s potential as an athlete. “Who are you going to become as a man when you come to Gustavus?” Baker asked. “What do you value?”

Head coach Brad Baker ’80 (left) mentored Lombard throughout his four years at Gustavus.

Lombard, a public accounting major, received Baker’s valuable mentorship throughout his four years. “He was probably the biggest influence that I had at Gustavus,” said Lombard. “He’s one of the best men I know.”

Lombard’s first interaction with the team also left a lasting impression. “The things the guys talked about were a lot bigger than baseball,” he recalled, including friendships, professional connections, and the fact that most seniors had jobs lined up well before graduation.

Lombard was in the same boat when his senior year came around. He had a job offer that would put him on track to become a CPA, and was looking forward to starting the career he had planned. With one more season of college baseball ahead of him, he wanted to make every moment count.

During the pandemic, Lombard had discovered the Kaizen philosophy of continuous improvement. Originally a business model, it emphasizes the importance of small actions to boost overall performance. As an athlete, Lombard applied this way of thinking to his everyday life, from the breakfast that would fuel his workout to getting a good night’s sleep. “My whole life was a game of how many things can I do throughout the day to help me towards my end goals. It made everything a lot more fun, because just doing the little things mattered.”

Little life adjustments led to big results. By February 2021, Lombard was hitting new personal bests he had “never come close to” in past years. With impressive numbers and an extra year of NCAA eligibility from his scrapped junior season, he set his sights on Division I teams. Emails soon trickled in from coaches who would follow his season closely, to see if he could maintain his performance. 

Lombard’s nine-inning no-hitter game proved his potential as a Division I player.

Despite his future as a Division I player riding on his senior season, Lombard didn’t feel the pressure. “I did literally everything I could to be prepared for the season,” he told himself. “So there’s no reason to worry about it; just go out and play.”

Lombard built momentum throughout the season, culminating in a nine-inning no-hitter. That’s when talks got serious. “Coaches switched from ‘yeah, we’re interested’ to ‘yeah, we want you.’” 

Their offers set Lombard on a new path. No longer pursuing a career in accounting, he is working towards a master’s degree in sports management at the University of San Francisco. He’s also an intern at Mustard, a baseball tech startup with an app designed to help athletes train independently and democratize player development. One day, he hopes to become a general manager of a major league baseball team, utilizing his background in accounting and his own experiences as a player. 

In some sense, he has the COVID-19 pandemic to thank for his new career trajectory, by giving him one more year to pursue his passion for baseball. “I’m kind of on borrowed time right now,” he said, “so I’m just trying to make the most of the opportunity that I was lucky enough to be given.” 

If there’s one thing that Lombard’s unlikely journey has taught him, it’s that life after graduation rarely follows a predictable course. Instead, it’s a time for giving “a million percent” to wherever someone’s passion leads.

“I think people worry about having their life figured out way too early. If there’s something that you’re on the fence about pursuing, just pursue it relentlessly and see what happens.”

 

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