Looking Back with Joe Santoro

Tell us about your experience so far in college, what are you looking forward to next?

So far, college has been a challenge in every aspect of my military, athletic, and academic endeavors. Waking up on a regimented schedule has proven tough, and it continues to bring out any resilience I may have. All the same, the baseball experience has been fantastic, and has provided an escape from the daily routines at West Point. This year, making it to the Raleigh Regional and beating NC State highlighted what has already been a fulfilling college baseball experience. After graduating here, I will become a 2nd lieutenant in the Army for at least the next five years. Finishing my baseball career while training to become an officer is something I always look forward to.

Tell us about your experience with Top Tier and how it impacted you as a player?

I credit many of my recruiting opportunities to playing for Top Tier. Without this program, it would have been very difficult for me to get on the radar of West Point's staff. Specifically, my time in the program showed me the importance of competing and ultimately winning. Unlike many programs in today, Top Tier emphasizes the importance of doing, not just trying. In life and baseball, I feel this lesson is hard to learn but completely necessary for competing in everything we do.

Talk a little bit about the recruiting process and how everything went down?

The recruiting process took form for me the summer between my sophomore and junior year. That winter, I had been exposed to the PBR college camps, and this exposure catapulted my recruiting and afforded me the opportunity to be seen by coaches across the country from a litany of different conferences. After initially talking to some schools I spent that summer playing in front of those who exhibited the most interest in me, with the culminating event of my college interest being the PBR Future Games. This is where I was seen by Army, and it allowed me to display my abilities to so many different schools. Of all my desires during the recruiting process, I wanted to use baseball as a tool to get into a school I would not otherwise have the opportunity to attend. I feel Top Tier provided me with an avenue to do just that.

What were some of the priorities you looked at when deciding where you wanted to attend college?

As I stated above, the most important aspect of my college decision was the academic prestige and opportunities of the school I would be attending. In addition to facilities and competitive baseball, I was able to attend a school that I would most likely not be at without the game. I think this opportunity should not be discounted by any player looking beyond the game of baseball.

What are some of the goals you have set for yourself as a college baseball player and beyond?

As a college baseball player I would like to earn all-conference honors at least one time in my career and reach a FB velocity of 94 MPH. Ultimately, getting drafted should be every player's goal but I believe that through intermittent, developmental goals this may become possible.

What advice would you give a high school player going through the recruiting process?

If I were to give advice to a high school player I would tell them to listen to every single college that calls them, no matter your interest in the school. As I've seen, the college baseball world is a small one, where coaching staffs change and new jobs open up in many different parts of the country. While you may think it gives you no benefit to talk to the school a certain coach is currently at, hearing them out could pay dividends in the future.

Is there anybody you would like to give a shout-out or thanks to?

I would love to thank my Top Tier coaches from 12u-17u for showing me the proper way to compete, emphasizing the fact that nothing is given when you get older and more serious about your craft. Finally I would thank my parents and their unwavering support in my college decision and baseball career. Don't ever take them for granted, because if they're like mine they possess a genuine desire for your well-being, which is something that you will not see when you move on from Top Tier and into college baseball. Both my mom and dad have been by my side through all of this, and not a day goes by where I don't think about the sacrifices they've made in order to give me the chance to play baseball and attend West Point.

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