Before a game, players can be found relaxing in the locker room, engaged in a number of different activities - playing cards, watching TV, listening to music and playing ping-pong. Infielder Mark Trumbo, however, sits quietly in his corner locker scribbling math problems on a piece of scratch paper. These equations do not appear to be baseball stats. When asked what he's working on, he gives a quick smirk and replies, "I made a promise to my mom."
Drafted out of high school by the Angels in the 18th round of the 2004 draft, Trumbo passed up a full scholarship to the University of Southern California in order to pursue his dream of playing professional baseball for the Angels. The decision was tough for his parents, but came with a promise; to do everything in his power to continue his education.
Five years into his professional baseball career, Trumbo has managed to complete two years of college work by taking online courses; a feat which he acknowledges as his greatest accomplishment off the field.
"I actually always really enjoyed school," Trumbo said. "It was real important to my parents too, so I promised them that I would do the best I could to continue my education."
But Trumbo is not alone. Several Bees players have chosen to dedicate their down time to pursuing a higher education. Outfielder Nick Gorneault recently graduated with a degree in kinesiology from the University of Massachusetts. Kinesi-what? Kinesiology: the study and science of human movement.
"It's kind of like sports medicine and exercise science," Gorneault said.
Gorneault spent four years at UMass before being drafted by the Angels in 2001. Since then, he has been taking classes part time in the offseason to finish what he started. "I wanted to have that degree under my belt so I could broaden my opportunities of other things I can do," Gorneault said. "I am very happy that I went back to finish."
Gorneault has already made good use of his degree in the clubhouse as a back-up assistant to Bees Trainer Brian Reinker.
Right-handed pitcher Michael Kohn has also dedicated his spare time to pursuing a college degree. In 2008, Kohn was a business communications major. He was drafted out of the College of Charleston by the Angels his senior season, but just a few classes short of earning his degree.
"My parents always preached education first. So I figured, I already went to four years of school, I might as well get my degree, otherwise I've wasted all that time and money."
Kohn only has one semester left and plans to take online courses this summer. He is excited to finally graduate and realizes the importance of having a college degree as a backup plan.
"If I wasn't a ballplayer, I'd probably use my degree to become a sports agent or something in that field. I might even start my own business."
Daniel Davidson, too, has his goal set to finish his degree by the end of 2010. The left-handed pitcher is 13 hours short of completing a degree in sports management at Florida State University. He plans to go back at the end of the season to finish.
"I promised my granddad I would get my degree before I even started college," Davidson said. "Today, you can't even get a job without some sort of degree. It's just a security blanket I want to have for my wife and daughter."
The Bees clubhouse is filled with years of college classroom experience. Sixteen players on the 25-man roster have at least a year of college under their belt, as does manager Bobby Mitchell. Mitchell attended the University of Southern California where he played baseball and worked towards a degree in business management. Like Davidson, Mitchell was only a few classes away from graduating before being drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1977.
"I wanted to graduate in four years, but I had to drop this one night class because of my baseball schedule," Mitchell said. "I knew if I didn't do it soon then I never would." Four years into his pro career, Mitchell took the winter season off to go back to USC and finish his remaining classes.
"I am really glad I went back and finished it. It was always really important to me to finish what I started and I am lucky to have a degree from USC."