The Oregon native plays both sports for Pacific University but is part of the Newark Pilots this summer.
NEWARK _ If the Newark Pilots want Nathan Suyematsu to play infield for a game, he's ready to go. And should Pilots call on his arm to do some pitching, again, he's ready to go.
And in a way, that versatility defines his overall athleticism and is what makes him a bit different from the average athlete of today.
First, he's an Oregonian who plays at a Oregon-based school playing in the New York-based Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League, where many of the players either are from or attend school on the East Coast. Only six of Suyematsu's 31 teammates list hometowns west of the Mississippi River.
Secondly, when Suyematsu returns to Division III Pacific University in the fall, will take his place as a wide receiver and punter on the Boxers' football team. At the end of the football season, he'll prepare for his season on the Boxers' baseball team, where he is a two-time selection to Northwest Conference All-Conference teams.
And yet, his schedule is still less hectic than it was when he was in high school, where he also played basketball. Yes, in a era where sports specialization is often said to be on the rise, Suyematsu has bucked the trend.
Suyematsu can't imagine life any other way.
“I've just always liked doing different sports, ever since I was really young (and) all the way through high school,” he said.
At Tualatin High School, southwest of Portland, Nathan excelled at baseball, football and basketball, to the extent he was named First-Team All-League for all three of them in his senior year in 2012. That was also the year when a local newspaper, The Times Tigard-Tualatin, declared him Athlete of the Year for the school in a article entitled “Excelling at Everything.”
While it remains fairly common for athletes to do multiple sports in high school, it is less common at the college level. Pilots public relations director Travis Larner can't think of any other players on the 2015 Pilots who play more than one sport at their college, although many had done so when they were younger. Suyematsu, however, has maintained his multi-sport ways at Pacific University, located west of Portland.
Partly, he said, it was because he had always been doing it, but the fact he had the opportunity was an even bigger reason:
“I just never have had any downtime, so in college when I had offers to play football and baseball, (I figured) I might as well do it,” he said. "Have fun while my body's young.”
In addition, the fact he's on more than one team allows him to meet more people and make more friends.
“You also get to meet a lot more people that way,” he said. “I've met so many people at school, with football guys, not just baseball guys.
"It feels as if I'm friends with the whole school ... it's a lot better that way.”
He admits that playing two sports does present unique challenges, especially when beginning preparations for football season while still playing baseball. But attending a Division III school makes it easier due to having less pressure to focus on one sport, although he admits that baseball has “always been No. 1” for him.
Fittingly, while Suyematsu has seen success in both sports at the college level, he has done better as a baseball player, being named a First-Team All-Conference player in 2014 and a Second-Team selection in 2015 and leading his team in several offensive categories along the way.
Those results partially answer the first question: what is a Oregonian doing in Newark? The reason is that Suyematsu had proved he was good enough to play summer ball during the regular season.
As for playing in Newark, well ...
“I was just looking for a place to play this summer, and one of my coaches back at school said this was a good place to play, so I decided to come here,” he said. “I like traveling for summer ball, I was in Ohio last year. I like to get away from Oregon a bit once in a while.”
And while his statistics so far have not matched his production during his seasons at Pacific, he's called the year so far a “great experience.” He is rooming with many of his teammates in a local house loaned to the team by a church, an experience he calls “crazy”, but “definitely a lot of fun.”
And, besides, when this summer season ends in Newark, he'll just go to his next one: the Pacific University Boxers open their football season at the College of Idaho on September 5.