Gareth Stroh’s road to the pitcher’s mound at Nebraska has been an unorthodox one, filled with change and doubt, but it is the reason why he has reached this point.
Stroh’s high school, Gibbon High School, did not have a baseball team, so the only time he could play was for a club team during the summer. This made recruiting difficult for Stroh.
“The biggest challenge was that I didn’t have the exposure,” he said. “So, I have had to take a very different route.”
However, it was not all bad. The lack of a high school team gave Stroh a chance to focus on aspects of his game that other high school baseball players may not have had the chance to do.
“For most kids, they play high school baseball in the spring,” he said. “I was able to run track, so I think physically running track, building up leg strength, that allowed me to be better in the summer.”
After high school, Stroh didn’t have the opportunity to immediately play for a big Division I school. In fact, it was quite the opposite, as the left-hander started his collegiate career at Coffeyville Community College in Coffeyville, Kansas.
“Coming out of high school,” Stroh said, “no one really recruited me. I didn’t really care where I went, I was just looking for anybody that was willing to give me a chance.”
Stroh said he never planned to spend his entire collegiate career in Coffeyville, but he wanted to use the school as a springboard for future opportunities.
“I just saw it as an opportunity to continue to play baseball,” he said, “hopefully get better and then take the next step.”
Despite starting 12 games in 2016, recording 67 strikeouts in 70 innings pitched and collecting academic all-conference honors in his first season, Stroh said he struggled immensely both physically and mentally.
“I had statistically, and psychologically, a terrible baseball season,” Stroh said. “I went through a bunch of growing pains, almost to the point where I questioned whether I was good enough, whether I wanted to continue this.”
After his first season, Stroh’s career really began to come together. He continued to play baseball over the summer, this time for the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters, a collegiate summer team in the Northwoods League.
After a stronger summer season, Stroh transferred to Purdue. He continued his success in the 2017 season, going 5-4 with a 3.89 ERA and recording 53 strikeouts. At the end of the season, Stroh collected Third-Team All-Big Ten honors.
Despite seeing success at Purdue, Stroh decided after his junior year it was time to switch things up, and he transferred to Nebraska.
“I just wanted a change in every aspect of my life,” he said. “I got my release and reached out to a couple teams, and Nebraska showed initial response and interest, so we just moved forward with that.”
Stroh, who will be ineligible to play this upcoming spring due to his transfer status, is looking to finish his college career at Nebraska after all of the struggles and change that helped bring him to Lincoln.
Going from team to team can be hard, but Stroh does his best to stay positive in the face of all these challenges.
“Each spot is different because it’s a new environment and you have to re-prove yourself, so it’s scary in that sense,” Stroh said. “But, at this point for me, it’s a cool experience because I get to be around new teammates, new coaches, a new perspective and a new way of doing things.”
Stroh took an unconventional route to Nebraska. However, he acknowledges that it has done a lot for him.
“I learned so much about myself going to all these different places where I wasn’t close to family and I didn’t have that immediate support,” he said. “It’s not so much that I would have like to have taken this route, but I certainly appreciate everything that I’ve went through and I’ve done, and I think it’s allowed me to grow more.”