Balancing books and bats
- Feb. 7, 2012
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Players on the Kansas baseball team must find a way to balance schoolwork with practice, off-season workouts, weight training and a 56-game regular season.
For senior infielder and captain Chris Manship, that balance is elusive. Manship not only captains the baseball team, he also majors — and excels — in engineering.
Though he was selected to the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll twice, balancing engineering with baseball remains difficult.
“It’s extremely hard,” Manship said. “It’s never really in balance; it’s always kind of fluctuating.”
Luckily for Manship, coach Ritch Price understands that Manship’s schedule is demanding.
“A year ago, he was coming to practice late and leaving early in order to make his afternoon labs,” Price said.
Price selected Manship to be a captain of the team this season because of his character, rather than his performance.
“Just the fact that he would nominate me not necessarily on performance, but for other attributes, I thought was very commendable,” Manship said.
Price said he chose Manship because he works so hard and has earned everybody’s respect in the program.
Manship doesn’t like to do anything the easy way. After finishing high school in Cave Creek, Ariz., he chose baseball over football before college because he thought the objective of football was too simple: Just use brute force. Manship prefers the mental wherewithal of baseball and the feeling of success after doing something right on the field.
“Baseball always seemed to be the calling and the one I wanted to play,” Manship said. “There’s just so much to it.”
Baseball runs in Manship’s genes. His father, Jim Manship, played baseball in college. Two of his cousins, Jeff and Matt Manship, were drafted by Major League organizations. Jeff is currently listed on the Minnesota Twins’ 40-man roster.
Even with a baseball family, the sport never came easy to Manship. His cousin Jeff always told him baseball is a grind that he has to stick with.
“I don’t know if baseball has ever clicked for me,” Manship said. “I think it’s always kind of been my enemy.”
Manship constantly works to improve his game. He spent the summer of 2010 playing baseball in Anchorage, Alaska, and he spent last summer playing for the Duluth Huskies in the Northwoods League, where he was named a post-season all-star. Manship said he feels like he turned a corner playing in the Northwoods League and that he’s more comfortable than he used to be when he’s in the game.
Manship came to Kansas as a non-scholarship player with a guaranteed roster spot. He eventually improved enough to earn the starting designated hitter spot by his sophomore season.
Senior infielder and co-captain Jake Marasco said that Manship sets a great example for the younger players.
“As an engineering major, he has to be on top of his stuff about as much any one,” Marasco said. “It’s nice to have guys who are determined to get things done on and off the field.”
Baseball hasn’t always come easy for Manship, which is why he likes to play for Kansas. He said even though Kansas has talent, the team is always seen as an underdog by its competition.
“It’s more motivation to show people what you can do,” Manship said. “It’s nice to prove people wrong.”
Edited by Caroline Kraft