Coming to North Dakota State University in Fargo, North Dakota, Leavenworth High alum JT Core had to battle with adversity a bit more than he had hoped.
Coming over from Western Nebraska Community College after a year of play, Core, a catcher/utility player, joined the NCAA Division I Bison and things may not have gone exactly as hoped right off the bat.
“My early college years were spent battling a few injuries but I was fortunate enough to stay healthy my junior and senior years,” Core said. “The lows were definitely my injuries but I had a bunch of highs. Most of the good memories I have from playing all stem from the camaraderie of the locker room and all of the ensuing shenanigans. In high school, I was a four-year starter for (Coach) Joe (Allison) as a catcher and my junior year we beat Free State in the regional championship to advance to state for the first time in 12 years.”
Core took his winning ways eventually to Fargo and immediately made an impact.
He played in a total of 108 games – starting 83 – batted .283 for his career in 318 trips to the plate.
He finished with 22 doubles and two round-trippers (both coming this past season) and recorded 44 RBI, totaling 23 this spring.
His fielding percentage was also a strong .960.
It was still an eye-opening experience for Core, who was part of three teams that went a combined 80-81 over that time span as a member of the Summit League. The Bison never qualified for the NCAA Tournament.
“The athletes were all there for the same reason and it was great to be around a hard-working group of men,” Core said. “The rudest awakening was definitely the speed of the game. Everything just seemed like it happened quicker. A few schools we played were not very good but most of the schools were excellent.”
To play at a much higher level, Core realizes that there are many tricks of the trade that can make the difference between reaching the heights and wondering what happened.
“Young athletes need to learn to trust the process and work hard,” Core said. “Your strength coaches are going to change the way you lift, your coaches will change your mechanics, and your teammates will change the way you compete.”
As he now moves on in life and embraces the day of the working man, Core will still hang on tight to the memory of taking the Pioneers to the state tournament.
“My biggest moment was absolutely Ben Naething pitching a complete game to win the regional championship in 2011,” Core said.