Team comes first for JezierskiWhat the Saints have gotten from Cloquet's Thomas Jezierski over the past four years is a total team player. Jezierski uses his attitude, voice and — even his facial hair — to keep the team upbeat from the dugout.
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
There were times during a College of St. Scholastica baseball game this spring where Tyler Olin couldn’t figure out what teammate Thomas Jezierski was hollering from the bench.
“It can be very difficult to understand him,” said Olin, a senior infielder. “You never know what you’re going to get.”
What the Saints have gotten from Jezierski over the past four years is a total team player. Although the senior catcher played in only eight of the team’s 40 games this season and had just six at-bats, Jezierski used his attitude, voice and — even his facial hair —to keep the team upbeat from the dugout.
“Whether you’re on the field or not, there are many ways to help the team,” said Jezierski, a psychology major. “I just have fun. If you get the team going, get them cheering, it can help.”
Jezierski, a 22-year-old 2009 graduate of Cloquet High School, has helped mostly in the Saints’ bullpen warming up pitchers over his last four years. When not catching, Jezierski spends his time in the dugout: constantly chattering clever baseball one-liners, while his colorful dance moves are a must-see.
“He’s the guy in the dugout that keeps everyone loose,” Saints Coach Corey Kemp said. “He takes a lot of pride in that.”
Kemp, in his fourth season as head coach of the nationally-recognized Division III program, has been with Jezierski through both of their careers. He said although Jezierski seldom saw the field, he was as valuable as any on the Saints’ 46-man roster.
“He’s the ultimate team guy,” Kemp said. “For a majority of his time here, he’s caught bullpens — sometimes for an entire practice. And he’s out reading books at elementary schools, too.
“He was willing to do whatever we needed for the last four years,” Kemp continued. “He’s been a wonderful kid to have.”
Jezierski, who sports many facial hair looks, including a distinctive O-shaped goatee, said he loves being a part of baseball. Still, he was quick to add that his collegiate career was most pleasurable due to the teammates he had and friends he’s made.
“We’re a big family,” Jezierski said. “More than anything, it’s about being around all of these guys. We say some really stupid stuff and can be idiots, but that’s just us having fun. I’ve made so many memories. I wouldn’t change it for the world.”
Olin, a Duluth East graduate who met Jezierski as a senior in high school, agreed, explaining the two have become very close.
“I would say Thomas is one of my closest friends,” Olin said of his classmate and team partner for Monday’s Memorial Day Wiffleball Tournament in Cloquet. “It doesn’t end here.”
“Some teams talk about replacing their starting centerfielder or starting shortstop, not their bullpen catcher — but I know we’ll miss him next year,” Kemp added. “When you add up all the little things about Thomas Jezierski, they aren’t so little.”