Gig Harbor High School senior and baseball player Mark Sluys will be taking his talents to the East Coast next fall. The Tides’ starting catcher is officially committed to Brown University, an Ivy League school in Providence, Rhode Island. The Brown Bears coaching staff first noticed Sluys at an all-Academic game at the Arizona Fall Classic in October. They emailed Sluys the next day, and it took off from there. While Sluys said he is looking forward to continuing his baseball career, academics was the biggest factor in his decision.
“First and foremost, getting a good education was the biggest thing with the decision process,” Sluys said. “The best education I could get was at Brown. The campus was great, I spent two nights with some of the sophomore players, went to classes and practice. I fell in love with it. They have everything, the coaches are nice and hard-working, it seemed like it all fit.”
Sluys is batting .353 this season for the Tides, and he’s carrying a 3.71 GPA.
In addition to the transition to college, the distance will be a big change, too — 3,000 miles separates the school from Gig Harbor.
“I always wanted to go to school in the Northeast,” Sluys said. “It attracted me. I thought the area was really neat. I wanted to get pretty far away. I wanted to go somewhere and grow up.”
For Sluys, the move will give him a chance to experience something new and receive a world-class education. Sluys said the decision was a “no-brainer.” On the baseball diamond, he’ll have a chance to compete with one of the catchers on the team, a current freshman. Whoever loses the job will likely be given a corner infield spot. During his official visit in December, Sluys was drawn to the team’s culture and camaraderie.
“They’re all down-to-earth guys,” Sluys said. “They’re smart. They’re having a good time, doing their work on and off and the field. It was really comfortable. With the coaches, they were great, really helpful throughout the whole process. They love what they do and they’re knowledgeable about the game. Their enthusiasm makes you excited.”
Sluys said he believes he’ll be an asset to the team.
“What I would bring to the team is a good defensive catcher, someone who’s willing to work hard, and go out and do what I love,” he said.
Additionally, he’s already decided what he wants to study, which is more than a lot of incoming freshman can say. He’ll be studying business and economics, hoping it will be a foundation for his eventual dream job, a goal that he’s had since he was 10 years old: becoming a Major League general manager.
“This opportunity kind of made it all come together,” Sluys said. “I’ve always wanted to run the team, make the trades, do all that kind of stuff.”
While Sluys is looking forward to the future, he took some time to reflect on where he is and where he’s been as well.
“(Growing up in Gig Harbor) has meant a lot,” Sluys said. “It’s a great spot to grow up. There’s a lot of great people, being part of the program is awesome. Coach Jansen is awesome. Everyone wants to be a Tide and grow up and play on that field and be a part of that team.”Jon Manley: 253-358-4151 jon.manley @gateline.com Twitter: @gateway_jon