For many young men and women, going to college is one of the best experiences of their lives.
It also can be one of the roughest experiences, too.
Social problems, parties and homesickness are just a few of the many issues students have to encounter on a regular basis when they leave their families for the first time.
When it comes to 2018 Tallmadge graduate Seth Gergely, time management was, without a doubt, his biggest challenge.
As a result, his college experience nearly ended barely after it started.
"It basically just came down to me not being able to balance my classwork and baseball correctly," Gergely said.
Such was the case for the former Blue Devils All-Ohio outfielder not long after he left high school.
Oddly enough, things were just peachy at first.
Gergely, who helped Tallmadge win a Division II state championship as a junior, signed a national letter of intent to continue his academic and baseball careers at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana.
Sadly, it didn’t go well.
Gergely finished with just one hit in 16 plate appearances for the Boilermakers.
No shame in that, of course. After all, how many freshmen become All-Americans right away?
For Gergely, though, there was another serious issue. And when it came to this issue, Gergely couldn’t use an aluminum bat or a leather glove to save him.
That’s because athletic ability has no value in the classroom.
"I wasn’t prepared enough with study habits, along with just a poor work ethic on my part," Gergely said. "I dug a pretty big hole for myself early on and couldn’t bring myself out of it quickly enough. Then the workload increased once the season came around."
Fortunately, things didn’t completely fall apart for the gifted 20-year-old.
Gergely got another chance to get his house in order. To do that, he needed to return to the Buckeye State.
Thus, Gergely enrolled at Sinclair Community College, an urban campus that makes its home in Dayton. By the way, the Tartans, who are led by head coach Steve Dintaman, had no Big Ten opponents listed on their schedule during the spring.
"Sinclair was a mid to late summer agreement with Coach Dintaman once I went on a visit to campus," Gergely said. "He had laid down a whole academic plan to get myself back on track in order to graduate in the spring."
Once he was able to pick Dintaman’s brain, Gergely knew he was back on the right track.
And his time-management skills greatly improved as well.
"He had already created a whole schedule prepped and ready to go for me once I arrived on my visit," Gergely said. "I said to myself, ‘This is exactly the place where I need to be right now in order to come out on top of all this.’"
Gergely played 14 games and batted .262 with 11 hits, nine runs scored, nine walks, six RBIs, four stolen bases and three triples for Sinclair.
Besides Dintaman, Gergely had a childhood friend by his side. Scott Seeker, a 2018 Tallmadge graduate, was a member of the team.
"Sinclair was definitely a big change for me at first," Gergely said. "I went from living right on campus at Purdue to moving into an apartment in downtown Dayton, which was a completely different experience.
"Coach Dintaman did a great job of making me feel comfortable with my schedule of classes and where/when I was supposed to be. He was a guide to me until I really got into things a few weeks into the first semester.
"With the help of him and my teammates, including one of my best friends, Scott Seeker, things were easy to keep track of and I was definitely able to find a way to buckle down on academics and athletics easier than it was for me at Purdue."
Despite all of these harsh circumstances, Gergely’s dream of playing Division I baseball is still intact. He signed a national letter of intent to continue his academic and baseball careers at Indiana State University, a Division I public university that makes its home in the Missouri Valley Conference.
Gergely, who will be a redshirt sophomore when he makes his way toward Terre Haute, plans to major in social studies education.
Pardon Gergely if joining the Sycamores may seem like an out-of-body experience. That’s because he made his first career collegiate start when Indiana State butted heads with Purdue last year.
"I needed another shot at playing at the level I had gotten myself into," Gergely said. "My first official start in a college game was against Indiana State during my time at Purdue. I really took it to heart. I am blessed to have been given another opportunity to play at the Division I level at such a great school."
The Sycamores, led by head coach Mitch Hannahs, finished 8-6 during the spring before the season was canceled due to the global pandemic known as COVID-19.
Indiana State finished 43-18 and reached the NCAA Nashville Regional title game in 2019. In case you’re wondering, the Sycamores, who had their highest win total since 1990, also won both of their games against the Boilermakers.
"Most of their campus is getting redone and they have had a lot of talent in recent years," Gergely said. "I am blessed to have been given another opportunity to play at the Division I level at such a great school."
He’ll make sure he takes quite a few deep breaths, too. Since Gergely left North Munroe Road two years ago, his life has been turned upside down.
Yes, he’ll have the same pressure to juggle a busy schedule just like he did in West Lafayette. However, he will do everything he can to make the most of his second chance.
He plans to have fun in the process, too.
"I just want to eliminate a lot of the stress that I have put on myself in recent years," Gergely said. "I want to succeed in the classroom and on the field to the best of my ability. I want to be bigger, better, faster, etc.
"I personally want to hold myself to the standard of stealing a lot of bases on the field and performing at a high level in the classroom. Whether playing at my best gets me to the next level or not, I just want to live out my next few years of college to the fullest and make some great memories with the new friends I will make and the great coaching staff I have been blessed to have."
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, firstname.lastname@example.org or @Faceto_Gannett.