After graduating from Reed in 2009 and spending two years at Feather River College, Casey Yocom is now playing baseball for one of the premier programs in the country in Baton Rouge, La. for the Louisiana State Tigers.
Just two Southeastern Conference series remain for the Tigers before the regular season ends and they head to Hoover, Ala. for the SEC tournament. Although a conference championship is one of the goals for LSU (37-11, 15-8 SEC), the Bayou Bengals have their sights set on a trip to Omaha, Neb. and a seventh College World Series title in program history, which would be the second most in the NCAA record books.
“The season has been great so far,” Yocom said. “It’s a lot of fun. We’re first in the SEC West and tied for first overall, so no complaints here. Obviously we’re taking it one game at a time, but if you look at it as a whole, obviously we would love to win the SEC regular season championships, make it to Hoover and eventually get to Omaha.”
While the Tigers, ranked No. 4 in the nation, have had an abundance of success this season, Yocom himself has labored in his shift to the SEC. After putting together consecutive all-conference seasons for Feather River in the Golden Valley Conference, along with a Defensive Player of the Year award his freshman season, Yocom has not gotten off to as fast of a start at LSU.
“There have been some bumps in the road for me,” Yocom said. “I haven’t been doing as well as I want to be but I’ve learned how to be a team player and just hope for success for the team as a whole.”
Although the season has not played out so far as Yocom had planned, he has been able to lean on his teammates through the struggles.
“This is a real close team,” Yocom said. “Being away from home makes it a little harder but there’s not a single person I can’t look to here that won’t be there for me. My teammates help me out quite a bit.”
The support of Yocom’s teammates is not the only thing that has helped ease his transition with the Tigers.
“I learned a lot at Reed and Feather River that is helping me now,” Yocom said. “There are some days I look back and kind of miss my high school days and especially Feather River, but it’s a part of growing up. That’s why I am who I am today, because the experience going to Reed and Feather River just kind of made me who I am.
“Mainly I just learned that I’m not always going to be the best player so you have to lean on working hard. You can never give up. You constantly have to keep grinding to be the best that you can be. I just want to make a lasting impression, not just as a baseball player, but with who I am. I just want to take everything in and remember it forever.”
Aside from the baseball diamond, Yocom is also transitioning to the rest of his experience as a student-athlete at LSU.
“The school part is quite a bit a step above Feather River,” Yocom said. “I’m majoring in sports administration so I enjoy it. I’ve kind of had to make some adjustments to my study habits and what not, but I’ve become accustomed to the everyday routine and I’m just really enjoying it. I just want to be around sports with whatever I do.”
School and baseball are not the only areas of life that Yocom has had to become accustomed to.
“The weather and culture of Louisiana is so much different from back home,” Yocom said. “At first it was real hard to get used to the weather here because it’s so humid, but I’ve adjusted. With the people here, everyone here is so nice. The hospitality that everyone shows toward athletes and the community as a whole is awesome. It is super nice to live in.”
Part of the reason Yocom said he enjoys Baton Rouge so much is the encouragement and backing Tiger athletics get from their fans.
“We have the greatest fans in the college community,” Yocom said. “Football games are unreal. I was just used to always going to UNR games and I thought that was a lot of people, but you get into the stadium here and you look up and there’s over 90,000 people. I don’t even know how to describe it. It’s kind of breathtaking. It’s really unreal. Baseball games are too. The fans are so passionate. Just being a part of the team and having their support is pretty amazing.”
While Yocom is still adapting to life as a Tiger, the support of the community along with the fact that he is living out a childhood dream has made things a little bit easier.
“It’s everything I dreamed of growing up,” Yocom said. “Back in Nevada I always watched the College World Series and it seemed that LSU was there every year. Now to be a part of the team and the program and be so close to what we all want to accomplish is just unreal. I’m just along for the ride and I’m going to enjoy every step of the way.”
If Yocom and the rest of the Tigers have their way, that road will end in Omaha as the best team in college baseball.