Monday, March 19, 2018

Leadership lived: UIS baseball player Michael Rothmund enjoys breaking records and mentoring teammates

Michael Rothmund grew up playing baseball and watching the Chicago Cubs on television while dreaming of playing on the collegiate level or even professionally. He’s off to a good start as the first baseman for the University of Illinois Springfield Prairie Stars baseball team.

During the 2017 season, Rothmund set several UIS and NCAA records for homeruns. He led the entire NCAA (Division I, II and II) in home runs at 24 and broke the Division II single season homerun record averaging almost one home run per every two games played. He was also named the UIS Athletics Male Athlete of the Year and 1st-Team All-Great Lakes Valley Conference.

As a senior, Rothmund is considered an unofficial leader on the UIS baseball team. He enjoys mentoring the younger players and helping them to improve their game.

“Kids go to you and they look to you for answers and if they’re having a hard time on the field, struggling with hitting or fielding, they go to you,” he said. “It makes a real impact on my life knowing that I mean that much to some of the kids on the team.”

Rothmund, who grew up in Lombard, Illinois, is a communication major at UIS. He says he chose UIS because of the excellent baseball coaching staff and because he wanted to earn a University of Illinois degree.

“People say they want to go to big colleges and stuff like that,” he said. “That’s not my kind of style. I like getting to know my professors and getting to know my teammates and classmates and everything and having that personal connection with them.”

Rothmund is currently gaining professional experience by interning with Nicole Hager, who is the director of academic support services for UIS Athletics. As part of the internship, he helps with important paperwork and is planning a social media campaign to keep other student-athletes informed about important deadlines and resources available to them.

Following graduation from UIS, Rothmund says he’s considering a career in real estate or broadcasting. However, he’s hoping he can continue to play baseball.

“If there’s any chance I can keep playing baseball, I’m going to keep doing it. It’s been my goal since I was four or five years old and saw Major League Baseball players on TV and I just wanted to be that.”

Rothmund says he’ll look back on his college experience with fond memories and confidence that he made the right choice by attending the University of Illinois Springfield.

“It’s been fantastic. I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else,” he said.

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