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Ex-UI baseball player looks to teach — and be a Yankee

BY MELISSA DAWKINS | DECEMBER 14, 2011 7:20 AM

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Tyson Blaser has focus.

After the baseball-playing University of Iowa student earns his teaching certificate this winter, his professors and coaches said they're confident that determination will take him far.

Blaser played catcher for five years on the Hawkeye baseball team, and he is currently back near his hometown of Taylor Ridge, Ill. student-teaching at Moline High School in Moline, Ill.

"Tyson had a tremendous passion for the game of baseball and a passion for people," said Jack Dahm, the Iowa head baseball coach. "People just respond to him."

But after hanging up his cleats after last year, Blaser was not down for the count just yet. He spent his summer training in Florida with the New York Yankees and playing in the minors.

"I got done with college ball in May," Blaser said. "I thought my baseball career was over. The Yankees called and asked if I wanted to play, and I said, 'Yes I would.' "

However, the years leading up to his professional début were plagued with injuries, one of which took him out for an entire season.

"Tyson was supposed to be a starting catcher as a sophomore," Dahm said. "He hung on to the program during his rehab. It was tough on him … He was a big recruit for us. We had high expectations for him, and he had high expectations of himself."

Through everything, Tyson did not waver in the classroom, said Nancy Langguth, a UI clinical associate professor of education.

"I had been impressed with Tyson," she said. "I would get news from the Athletics Department that he would be absent … He was able to just stay on top of it."

Ultimately, Blaser said, he learned much from his experiences.

"What I've learned the most is to be flexible," he said. "Schedules are always changing … Also, just learn that you're part of a huge family at Iowa. Everybody loves being an Iowa Hawkeye."

On the field, in the classroom, and beyond, many emphasize Blaser's positive attitude.

"He's very humble and understated, but so conscientious," Langguth said. "And I really appreciate that."

Blaser said he believes success is the result of work ethic.

"I just attribute it to working hard," he said. "That's all it comes down to. I didn't take anything for granted and worked hard every day. I went through a lot of injuries. Knowing my baseball career could end tomorrow, I gave everything I had to everything I did."

Blaser wrapped his Hawkeye career with a .289 batting average, 2 home runs, 73 RBIs, four Academic All-Big Ten honors, five sessions as a Unity Council member, a B.S. in history, and a teaching certificate, among other distinctions.

Blaser said he will marrying his high-school sweetheart on New Year's before heading to train with the Yankees.

Dahm said he looks forward to Blaser's future successes.

"He's just a super, super kid," Dahm said. "I'm a great fan of Tyson Blaser."


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