LSU senior outfielder Sean McMullen recently experienced the kind of day that exemplifies what a student athlete should be, one who excels in the classroom as well as the playing field.
McMullen, alongside pitching teammate Nate Fury and former Tiger now turned student assistant coach Alex Edward, graduated from LSU during a ceremony held at the team's hotel in Auburn, Alabama on May 16. The arrangement was out of necessity, as the Tigers were on a business trip and competing in their final SEC series of the regular season. McMullen not only earned his degree, but he crushed the academic opposition for a 3.73 GPA in kinesiology. His sterling day would continue later that evening at Plainsman Park. The outfielder and designated hitter connected on a Michael O'Neal offering, driving it over the right field wall in the fourth inning. McMullen's solo home run would ignite a five-run inning for the Tigers, as they eventually buried Auburn 11-3.
Not a bad TGIF.
"I definitely feel a big sense of accomplishment," McMullen said while smiling. "I'm always focused on the next thing, though. I know graduating is a big deal and I know winning SEC baseball games is a big deal. But I'm always looking ahead. I don't look into the past. Still, there's a lot to be proud of, especially after the weekend we had and graduating."
So what is the next big thing? A run to Omaha and the College World Series with his LSU teammates would certainly be the perfect end to McMullen's collegiate career. Regardless, the Brother Martin High School alum is in great shape beyond the diamond.
"I'm going to apply for physical therapy school, whenever my baseball career comes to an end. I don't really know when that will be, but now that I have my degree, I'm really set up. It's a dream of mine to play pro baseball. But, you don't play baseball when you're...old," he explained.
LSU head coach Paul Mainieri has always been a big proponent of doing well in school. He's obviously never had to force feed those beliefs to McMullen.
"It goes back to what I've been preaching my whole career," said Mainieri. "A youngster doesn't have to choose between academics and athletics. He doesn't have to sacrifice his academics to be a good athlete. And you don't have to sacrifice being a good athlete to be a good student. Sean is living proof that if you manage your time and if you're dedicated enough, you can excel at everything in your life. And if you have both of those things going for you, you're a well-rounded person. It makes you more appealing in the work force to people. Your career in baseball will end in a short period of time. But your education will last a lifetime. That's the avenue doors get opened for you and give you opportunities to support a family, to make contributions to society and so forth. And when you come across someone like that, who does both, it's a wonderful thing."
McMullen has delivered his share of big moments at LSU. This season he's tied for the team lead in home runs (5), leads the squad in doubles (16) and is third in RBI (30). Still, McMullen has never been drafted, whether it be out of high school or after his junior season with the Tigers. That may finally change this year. Even if it doesn't, McMullen knows he won't strike out in life.
"I'm still chasing my dreams. I'm still living my dreams. But I understand the importance of school. My older brother graduated from medical school last year and my sister graduated from nursing school. Academics were certainly stressed. But my parents didn't force it on me," McMullen explained.
Mainieri believes McMullen sets a fine example for all, even those who simply can't obtain a 3.73 GPA.
"Not everybody is given the same aptitude or gifts as Sean McMullen. Sean has extreme intelligence. It's not just that he works hard, but he's given that gift. Not everybody has that. I'm not as smart as Sean McMullen. But everybody can work hard in school, accomplish things and especially earn their degree. I'm just so proud of how many kids since I've been here have earned their degree and are on their way to being a success in life," Mainieri added.
Copyright 2014 WAFB. All rights reserved.