J.R. Tidwell/FCT Nick Schmittou signs his letter of intent to Tougaloo College Tuesday afternoon. Pictured left to right are mother Cindy Orrick, Schmittou, father Steven Orrick and Coach Greg Hamilton.

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Vina seniors signs with Tougaloo

Published 6:00am Wednesday, May 30, 2012

VINA — The question of what will become of Vina senior Nick Schmittou after graduation has now been answered.

The multisport athlete has signed on to play baseball for Tougaloo College in Tougaloo, Miss.

“A friend of mine, Kevin Hastings, that’s where he goes,” Schmittou said. “His dad got us the number for the coach and we gave him a call. I tried out for the team and visited, and I really liked the campus.”

The Tougaloo College Bulldogs are a member of the Gulf Coast Conference in NAIA. Schmittou received a scholarship that will cover half of his college expenses, more than the usual 40 percent given to athletes.

Schmittou played baseball, basketball and football for Vina, but it is baseball that the young man will be playing at the collegiate level.

“I’ve been playing baseball since I was five,” he said. “It’s what I’ve been playing all my life. It’s fun being around the guys and the feeling of success.”

Schmittou batted .413 with 92 at-bats in 30 games in his senior year with the Red Devils.

He scored 39 runs and picked up 31 RBIs on 38 hits.

This is a good fit for him,” Vina head baseball coach Greg Hamilton said.

[Coach Bobby Kato] is very similar to myself. Nick will get early playing time there because he’s a catcher, and everything with the visit and tryouts has been good for him there.”

While having a new head coach similar to the previous head coach is a good thing, it was not any one thing about the college that made Schmittou choose it over his other prospects.

“It’s a little bit of everything,” he said. “They have good academics, and I really like Coach Kato. He’s a lot like us at Vina.”

Playing the sport you love at the next level is the goal of athletes across the country, but a different sort of challenge faces those who go from high school to college; moving away from home for the first time.

“I have mixed feelings about it,” said Cindy Orrick, Nick’s mother. “It’s the next chapter of his life, and I know it will be OK. He knows Kevin who goes to school there, so it’s not like he won’t know anyone.”

“This is a good step forward for him,” said Steven Orrick, Nick’s father. “You have to have a good education these days, and he can get one there.”

While his parents have mixed feelings on the subject, Schmittou seems to be looking forward to the college experience.

“I think it will be alright,” he said. “I know Kevin down there, and I’m sure I’ll be OK with it.”

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