Everyday Champion - Kraig Sitton

April 15, 2010

Kraig Sitton joined the Oregon State family in 2007, but for him, it's almost like he's always been a member. His second cousin, Charlie Sitton, once starred in basketball for the Beavers and most members of Kraig's family have orange and black running through their veins.

Since coming to Oregon State, Kraig has become an invaluable member of the team's relief corps. He has almost made stranding runners an art form, as since throwing his first pitch in 2008, he has inherited 82, allowing a miniscule 16 to score (only 19 percent).

But Kraig's not just about pitching and baseball. He has aimed to succeed in the classroom as well, taking a particular interest in history and has desire to teach. He has aspirations of playing Major League Baseball, but knows that's not a guarantee.

He talked about all of that and more below, as this week's everyday champion.

Question: Being an Everyday Champion, having success on the field and off it, how important is that to you?
Kraig Sitton: 'I think it's very important to be honored or recognized for an award such as this because I did come to college not only to play baseball but to get a good education and a quality education and I think that Oregon State has done that for me.  It's just a great honor and I'm proud to be selected for it.'

Q: What is your major and why did you chose it?
KS: 'I'm majoring in history and currently trying to get into the double degree program with history and education because I would like to teach high school level history. I'd like to teach young kids, and hopefully coach for that level as well.  I picked it because I had a great history teacher in high school who really had a profound influence on me and I was like, `Well, I would like to do that and would like to make it enjoyable for kids to learn.''

Q: If being a professional baseball player doesn't work out, is being a teacher something you're looking forward to?
KS: 'Ultimately I'd love to play baseball for as long as I can, but you can't take that for granted and assume that's going to happen. It's also been an ultimate goal of mine, to teach and coach. I would love to stay involved with baseball somehow and if I could coach at the high school level that would mean a lot to me.'

Q: What kind of emphasis does Coach Casey put on academics with the team?
KS: 'Well, I think it's always there. They're always on us about taking care of business in the classroom, which makes sense because if you don't take care of business in the classroom, you're not going to be eligible or able to do it on the field. Ardell Bailey (OSU academic advisor) works a lot with us, too. He does a great job of keeping us on task and making sure that we get our work done and get it done on time.'

Q: What are some of the ways that you make sure to get your work done when you play so many games on the road?
KS: 'I think, with baseball playing so many games on the road and missing so much class, you get a crash course in time management within the first year or two you're here. For me, part of it is my major; with history it's a lot of reading and papers so I don't have a lot of weekly assignments which works well with the baseball schedule. I do my reading on the plane or during other parts of travel. I think it's important to be able to take a couple minutes to work on something, or, over the course of a week, work on a paper.'

Q: How was the experience of being drafted last summer?
KS: 'It was a new experience, something I'd never been though before. It was an honor to be drafted and it means a lot to me. It was a kind of new process, working with all the different scouts and upper management. It was a dream come true for me because that's ultimately what I want to do.'

Q: What was the best and worst part about the being drafted process?
KS: 'The best part about being drafted, like I said, was that it was a dream come true for me. It's what I've worked for my whole baseball career and to see it there and hear my name selected to the Boston Red Sox, which is a great organization, was pretty awesome. The worst part about it is not really knowing what to do. It was a new experience for me. I wasn't familiar with the processes leading up to and after the draft. It was all new, so I guess that would be the worst part.'

Q: How was it to have pitching coach Nate Yeskie around to help you out?
KS: 'He really has been through it all, so it was nice to have someone like that around. He's seen other people go through it all and has been around professional baseball and the draft quite a bit.'

Q:
Ultimately, what made you decide to come back to Oregon State?
KS: 'I didn't really feel like I was ready, physically. I thought it would benefit me a lot more to come back, try and put on some weight, and work on specific things. Also to come back and get as close as I can to graduating, which I'll be pretty close to. All in all, I think it was a good decision for me and I love the guys on the team. We have a great time.'

Q: What does it mean to you to be an Oregon State Beaver?
KS: 'For me, being a Beaver has been a meshing of the fans and boosters and all that. I just love the campus and all the people that surround it. We've got a tremendous fan base. Beaver Nation doesn't just come from nowhere. We have great support from fans on the road, it's just everything.'

Q: So you have some famous Oregon State bloodlines. Tell us about that.
KS: 'First of all, there's absolutely no one in my family who is anything but a Beaver fan. I have two cousins who are Duck fans and I wouldn't want to say we disowned them, but it's hard on the family (he says laughing). My second cousin, Charlie, played basketball down here with a lot of success. Everybody knows Charlie down here and that's usually the first thing people ask me: `Oh, are you related to Charlie?' It's been neat to go into Gill and see his name up on the wall.'

Q: What did Charlie tell you about being an Oregon State Beaver?
KS: 'He was happy for me, obviously. He came down here with me one time and showed me around, introduced me to a whole bunch of people that he knew and had left lasting impressions on while he was here. He said that being an Oregon State Beaver is more than just the team. It's the University, it's the education part of it all, the professors; it's bigger than you. To be a Beaver, you're not only representing yourself but you're representing the university and everything that surrounds it.'

Q: What's it like playing at Goss stadium with, arguably, the best fans in the Pac-10?
KS: 'Well it's not really arguably; I would say we do have the best fans in the Pac-10. It's my fourth year here, I've been pretty much everywhere else, and it's just not the same, but of course I'm a little biased. With the new editions that they made to the field, it's just a great place to play. The fans are so close to the field and it gets loud in the late innings when the game is on the line. Since that's when I'm usually pitching, it fuels the fire for me. Really, it's just a great experience. They put in a players' lounge and they do a lot to try and make it comfortable for the players, which means a lot to all of us.'

Q: What's it like playing for this coaching staff, particularly Coach Pat Casey?
KS: 'I think that when you look at this coaching staff you look at experience. Coach Casey's been around for a long time and he's been around a long time for a reason. When you look at the guys he has brought in around him, they all work well together and the success that we have with the program they must be doing something right. It's been good working with them over the four years that I've been here.'

Q:
How important is it to you to get a scholarship from Oregon State?
KS: 'I think it's very important. I've heard the stories of people who are in debt after college and, for me, having a scholarship and being able to say that I don't have to pay back loans and that kind of stuff means a lot to me and my family. I know that's something that's always in the back of everyone's head when they go to college is, `how am I going to pay for this?,' because it is so expensive. So I think the financial aspect of not being in debt and not having to pay off loans has really helped me and will continue to benefit me in the long run too.'

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