ARLINGTON – Gavin Rork has been a standout baseball player and wrestler for Arlington High School for years.
But when he was injured during wrestling this season he decided to quit that sport. “It was just kind of an unlucky season because I’ve never gotten hurt wrestling or anything, and it felt like it was a sign not to wrestle,” he said Wednesday.
He suffered a concussion at the start of the season, then injured his left shoulder – his non-throwing arm – in a match.
After talking to his parents and coaches, Rork, who had already earned a second- and two fourth-place finishes at state, looked at the bigger picture.
“I decided to stop wrestling because I didn’t want to risk injuring myself more to where I potentially couldn’t play baseball, or hurt the scholarship,” Rork said.
In the fall, he signed a letter of intent to play college baseball for the Seattle University Redhawks.
It was not an easy decision. “I thought I had a good chance to win big at state, but one more season of wrestling isn’t worth as much as my college career in baseball, and eventually whatever comes after that,” he said.
A wrestling team captain, Rork used his extra time to urge on his teammates while undergoing physical therapy for an injury that didn’t require surgery. He occasionally worked out with the team, rolled around with them a bit, and attended all of the matches.
But now that the prep baseball season is here, the speedy centerfielder said he has never felt better.
“I feel one hundred percent,” he said. “I really think we can do just as good as we did last year, if not better.”
The Eagles finished first in the Wesco 3A North last year with a record of 21-5.
Rork finished third in the league with a .416 batting average with 33 hits, an on-base percentage of .560, 40 runs, and tied for the lead in steals with 12.
Looking back, Rork said he did so much better than he imagined when he first played T-ball at age 4. He played Little League until he was 12, then moved into Select play. His knack for wrestling really caught him off guard, but helped boost his athletic confidence.
As for playing in college, Rork didn’t expect to get an NCAA Division I offer. “That was kind of an eye-opener for me to see that I could hang with those guys.”
The scouting report on Rork says he is known for his speed, base stealing and blanket coverage of the outfield. “I like to get on base and create havoc for the pitcher, and just score runs for my team,” Rork said.
He’s a directional hitter with plenty of singles and doubles, but not many home runs.
His outfield coverage was important to SU coaches, because their home field, Bannerwood Park, has super-deep corners, he said.
“I’ll be good there because I’ll be able to track down balls well in the deep gaps,” said Rork, who plans to live in the sports dorms at SU.
Rork said he has a good eye for tracking the ball. “I’ve really been working at reading off the bat, kind of just predicting where the ball will go, and working on my baseball smarts.”
While he said he may approach things a little more cautiously this season with the Eagles, he’s trying to maintain the perspective that this is his last year to be a high school kid. “I don’t want to look back and say, ‘Oh well, I should have done this, I shouldn’t have done that.’”
Rork is a believer that leadership and friendship can co-exist. “I’ll go all in with my teammates and work hard,” he said.
Rork’s hobbies are snowboarding, wakeboarding, jet skiing and fishing, which comes in handy since his family has a place on Puget Sound. “I get to fish a lot, especially during the summer.”
His ultimate goal is to play pro baseball, but his backup plan is business management and entrepreneurship. “I like to do stuff on my own,” Rork said. “In high school, I sold shoes last year and had my own wood-splitting business.
He listens to rap, classic rock and some metal.
His playlist includes small-town rapper Lil Skies and Black Sabbath. “I definitely listen to the harder stuff when I work out because I’ve got to keep in the zone. I don’t want to be crying, listening to the soft music when I’m training.”