OVS Senior Connor Floyd was recently featured in an article by Under Armour’s Baseball Factory. As a baseball player with a dream of playing collegiate baseball, Connor has worked with Baseball Factory for the past few years in an effort to improve his ability and stats.
Now, Connor’s dream has become a reality, as he heads off to Iowa next fall to play for Clarke University. Connor’s player developer Patrick Wuebben noticed his hard-work, perseverance and trainability throughout Connor’s many interactions with Baseball Factory, and it is those characteristics that have stood out to the members of the Baseball Factory team.
This prompted them to unanimously choose Connor as the first player to be featured in their new monthly player profile series. The article, published March 2 by Matthew Lund, shows how Connor made his collegiate baseball dreams into reality. You can read the article below.
When it comes to the development and nurturing of a student-athlete, there aren’t many stories in the country like the one Connor Floyd possesses.
The story, as inspiring and special as it has turned out to be, almost never happened to begin with.
Connor’s high school (Ojai High School) in Ojai, California isn’t exactly a hotbed of sports in the area, being so small that the school staff had to ask students during Connor’s sophomore year if they wanted to play baseball just so they could field a team of nine players.
Leading the charge was Connor’s father, Craig Floyd, Ojai’s baseball coach and athletic director of the school. The situation was a dire one, but for the elder Floyd, he was never shaken in pushing his son to not be distracted about what was going on around him.
“The Ojai Valley team is comprised of 12-15 players of which many have little to no experience playing baseball,” Craig Floyd points out. “The biggest obstacle coaching Connor in that environment was to be sure he enjoyed playing the game and not to take it so seriously that he would lose his passion for the game. He had to learn how to deal with adversity and help his teammates raise their level of play.”
Connor, now a senior at Ojai has played with the proverbial “chip on his shoulder” but, at first, the process was an arduous one.
“It was tough to have nobody who was as passionate about baseball as I was,” explains Connor. “It was just me pushing myself with no real competition among teammates.”
Ojai Valley went from a three-win team in Connor’s freshman season to an eight-win 2014 campaign that saw Connor be involved in four of the team’s five walk off wins.
Teams took notice that Connor was a force in the lineup, and began pitching around him, leading to early struggles in his junior season. Connor stayed patient at the plate and turned it around, batting .444 last season and was chosen to play in the Southwest Futures All-Star Series.
Connor’s determination to succeed, even from the beginning, never waivered. Playing a sport that he loved, even at the smallest of schools, would not stop him from learning about the game and continuing to get better every step of the way.
One man, Patrick Wuebben, a Regional Player Development Coordinator for Baseball Factory, from the beginning saw the fire in Connor’s eyes and the type of determination and personality that everyone wants to work with.
“When Connor drove 40 miles to a workout in Agoura Hills just to tell me that he had poison oak and wouldn’t be able to work out that day, I knew I had not only a courteous young man on my hands, but someone who didn’t want to disappoint and took his future in baseball seriously.”
When you want something so bad that you can taste it, or in Connor’s case, that you can scratch, nothing stops you or gets in your way. That desire to play at the next level led him to first attend a Baseball Factory National Tryout in Santa Barbara, California in September of 2011.
Connor knew that in order to get better and play at the next level, college would have to be a serious option for him as a student-athlete, noting that it wasn’t until 8th grade before he realized that a lot of players go to college first, and that college was indeed the goal after high school. Baseball Factory provided the pipeline for that.
“Baseball Factory was an avenue to be evaluated to see where I stood against my peers,” Connor says. “I needed to have ways to gain exposure away from my high school team being that the school is very small and did not have the type of players that would bring coaches/scouts out to watch.”
Upon returning from his first Baseball Factory event, Craig asked his son one question. The answer he received from Connor was all he needed to know that his son had the correct mindset.
“(I) asked if he had fun, and his response was ‘we practiced and played 10 hours a day. I loved doing that and could (get) used to that.’ “Right then I knew he was going to get to the next level through his hard work and determination.”
For Wuebben, he could sense the fire in Connor; his hard work and determination were too hard to ignore. Craig was equally eager to see improvements in his son as well.
“(Connor’s) come so far, what I’ve appreciated from Connor and his Dad, they were always open to knowing what to work on,” Wuebben mentions. “Very coachable from the minute I met him. ‘What can I do, mechanically, what can I do better, speed-wise?’ “They were really open to hearing negatives, and Connor would set benchmarks for himself; a mph (mile per hour) more, a tenth of a second faster, and when he did, he just got it.”
Connor became a Baseball Factory event machine, having participated in eight events over his high school career, from the Cape Cod experience to Omaha to the Pirate City experience and back-to-back Pre-Season All-America Tournament nods in his junior and senior season.
“The way Baseball Factory treats you at that event (Pre-Season All-America Tournament) really makes you believe you can play college baseball,” says Connor. “We also get to play on spectacular fields and then against really, really good competition.”
He went onto add: “All four of the events made an impact on my career. They all inspired me even more to want to make it to the next level because they all gave me a slight taste of what it was like to be a college player or a professional player.”
All the while, Wuebben continued to be a “straight shooter” with Connor about his ability, being a great sounding board to discuss what was happening with him by the time each new event rolled around.
“He was always the kid at these events where he would be the favorite at every stop,” Wuebben mentions. “Connor never lets his ego get in the way. In fact, I’m not even sure he has an ego. Whenever I have constructive feedback for him, he never resists. He listens and applies what he learns. He’s a dream pupil.”
Now, the next step of becoming a collegiate player is becoming a reality for Connor.
At first, Connor felt the issue that many in the country face and that is minimal responses from prospective schools and coaches. For all the diligent work Connor did, he received roughly 10% of responses back, noting it became tough to stay positive because of very little feedback from coaches.
As he stuck with the process and narrowed his choice down to two schools, Connor’s luck began to change.
“I had emailed many colleges over my four years,” says Connor. “I had visits with San Diego State, University of San Francisco, Westmont College and Clarke University. Ultimately it came down to Westmont College and Clarke University. I chose Clarke because I felt like it was a better academic fit by having my specific major, a better baseball fit as I would be competing from day one for a starting position, social fit and economic fit for my family.”
Connor’s parents understand the importance of college academics, beyond playing between the white lines. They also understand the pluses of a small school for athletics.
“My wife and I are very comfortable with Connor’s decision to attend Clarke University. While we hoped he would remain in California, we understood that opportunities existed elsewhere. Clarke is a small school that will provide a similar feel to what Connor is used to in Ojai,” says Craig. “The school has his specific major (Sports Management/Business), he has an opportunity to compete and play immediately, the coaching staff showed great interest in Connor, and overall the school and program has a family feel.”
With the view of college now ahead of Connor, looking back on his experience with Baseball Factory has led to a handful of memories that will aide him in the future.
“Baseball Factory has taught me multiple things during my time with them; an improved work ethic, how to play with guys from around the country who I just met, the advanced mechanics of college/pro baseball and the ability to communicate with coaches are my biggest takeaways,” Connor says.
Beyond helping kids get better at a particular sport they love, Wuebben’s mission is carried out through a player like Connor Floyd. Wuebben uses a one-word phrase that means the most to him. Mentor.
“I have always been interested in being a mentor to Connor,” Wuebben says. “Creating a relationship beyond filling out a scout card is something that will last forever. The best note on a scout card is ‘great kid’, ‘coachable’, ‘cares about others’. That’s Connor right there. He has all the intangibles. He goes about his business the Factory Way. I’m invested in Connor’s success. He has a bright future in life.”Share