There was a point it was very possible 2012 Jefferson graduate Andy Santiago was not going to pursue an athletic career in college. A talk with his father and not wanting to have any regrets changed his mind.
Santiago will play baseball while attending Tiffin University.
“My parents have helped a lot,” Santiago said. “They’ve pushed me through school sports. They wanted me to play in college. Last year, I wasn’t sure I was going to keep playing after high school. I got invited to some workouts and my dad told me I should do it. I got a good deal, so I decided to take it.
“The main thing for me was that I didn’t want to graduate from college and say I wish I would’ve played. I figure I’ll give it a shot and see how it goes.”
The son of Wilson and Renee Santiago will receive about $12,000 a year in scholarship help. He will receive about $9,000 for academics and another $3,000 for playing baseball at the school.
Santiago chose Tiffin over other schools based on the offer he received and the growth he felt he could undergo as a ballplayer.
“I worked out with Northwestern (Ohio), Mercyhurst and Akron,” Santiago said. “I got the best deal from Tiffin and I liked their coaches best.
“I felt like I learned the most from the Tiffin coaches. They taught me a lot in the two days I worked out for them. I want to get better so I decided to go there.”
A two-sport athlete for the Falcons, Santiago chose to play on the diamond over battling on the gridiron collegiately.
“A couple of D-III coaches called for football,” Santiago said. “Baseball was my main priority. I always wanted to play in college at Division II or better,” Santiago said. “It’s a dream come true to play in the GLIAC. It’s the best (Division II) conference in the country. It’s definitely an honor to play for Tiffin.”
Learning the game under Jefferson baseball coach Scott Barber helped Santiago prepare for college.
“Coach Barber helped me a lot in every aspect,” Santiago said. “He always stayed on me to make sure I got better and I was on top of my game every year. I am glad to have had him as a high school coach.”
Jefferson football coach Jimmy Henson will also influence Santiago.
“I definitely learned a lot about the game, but also about life,” Santiago said. “Coach Henson taught me a lot about character. I will take that with me next year to go play baseball. He taught it’s important who I am when no one is looking. He stress to us to make every day count.”
Santiago served as a first baseman, outfielder and pitcher for the Falcons. For Tiffin, at least at the onset, he will be an outfielder.
“I usually play outfield,” Santiago said. “This year, I was a first baseman. I’m going there to be an outfielder, but that could always change. I can play a lot different positions.”
“I pretty much gave up (pitching). It was a lot of strain on my arm. I don’t even think Tiffin knows I pitched. I never brought that up.”
Santiago will pursue a degree in an area he feels suits him pretty well.
“I am going into accounting,” Santiago said. “I always like math and playing around with numbers. I saw the criteria for accounting and figured that was what was best for me to go into.”
The idea of playing baseball while pursuing a degree doesn’t overwhelm Santiago. He believes that being an athlete will actually help his studies.
“I think it’s going to help me to be in a sport,” Santiago said. “Because of baseball, I will have to spend at least five hours a week putting in study time in a certain building.
“If I wasn’t an athlete, I wouldn’t have anybody pushing me. I think it’s going to help me. We’ll see.”
Ettinger is a freelance writer from Ashtabula.