By David Fong
NEW BREMEN — Luke Vonderhaar’s ability on the diamond may have sealed the deal, but it was his ability in the classroom is what opened the door.
“It definitely helps — it’s what got me in the door at OSU — I wouldn’t have had the opportunities I did if it hadn’t been for academics,” said Vonderhaar, a recent New Bremen High School graduate who signed his letter of intent to attend school and play baseball at The Ohio State University Tuesday.
In addition to be a two-sports standout for the Cardinals, Vonderhaar also excelled in the classroom, earning salutatorian honors for his graduating class.
Vonderhaar had been looking at a number of schools — all of which would have been eager to have him in their classrooms — most notably Georgia Tech, the University of Georgia and Miami University in addition to Ohio State, but it was the Buckeyes who offered him a chance to play baseball while continuing his academic career.
He earned All-Ohio honors in baseball and All-Midwest Athletic Conference honors in both baseball (first team) and basketball (second team) as a senior, but his recruitment had been slowed by an injury suffered last summer.
“This is a fairly recent opportunity,” Vonderhaar said of the offer to play at Ohio State. “The injury sidelined me and I was out for a few months. But both my high school coach and my summer coach with the Dayton Classics spoke to (Ohio State) Coach (Greg) Beals on my behalf. That opened up the opportunity for me to compete. They will be no guarantees and I’m going to have to go there and prove myself.”
Vonderhaar said he’ll likely get a chance to compete for a spot at first or third base initially, but is willing to do whatever it takes to help the team.
“They see me as a corner infielder, but I could project at a lot of positions,” Vonderhaar said. “I’ll do whatever the program needs. If they say they want me to play leftfield, that’s fine. I can catch if they need me to, because I’ve done that before.”
In addition to playing basketball and baseball, Vonderhaar was a member of the National Honor Society and was the Senior Class treasurer. With the support of faculty and community members, Vonderhaar also founded the new Cardinal Business Club at New Bremen High School. He plans on majoring in finance and said the opportunity to attend Ohio State’s prestigious Max M. Fisher College of Business also contributed to his decision to continue his education at Ohio State.
“It’s been a long process, deciding where I was going to go to college,” Vonderhaar said. “To have the opportunity to play baseball and attend the school where I wanted to be is a dream come true.”
Contact David Fong at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter @thefong