Patterson Defines The Student-Athlete
Feb. 25, 2011
He hit .392 for his career with 25 home runs and 107 RBI in high school. He was a three-time Over the Mountain All-Star, was named First-Team All-State, a Pre-Season All-American and the Shelby County 6A Player of the Year. He was drafted in the 24th-round by the Chicago White Sox in the 2007 MLB Draft. A true baseball scout's dream, but what some people might not know about Kevin Patterson is that he was Valedictorian of his graduating class, a member of the National Honor Society, the National German Honor Society and the Mu Alpha Theta Math Honor Society.
"I wouldn't say I'm a math whiz, Patterson said. "I've always tried to work hard in everything I do and school is no different."
Patterson realizes the importance of a good education. He knows that numbers are a big part of his education and in the game that he plays. He knows how to determine his slugging percentage, his on-base percentage and like most baseball players, he has the tendency to calculate and recalculate his batting average during the game as well.
"I try not to, but it's hard not to," Patterson said. "You just try to take it one pitch at a time, one bat at a time, and it will usually work itself out."
In May, Patterson will be graduating with a degree in economics and realizes that playing an NCAA Division I sport as well as getting his degree is a vital process to both the maturity of a student-athlete and also can provide him with a possible career outside of baseball or after it.
Patterson credits his progression to his family and coaches, both former and current, but one man stands out as inspiration for him, Scott Sullivan. Sullivan played for Auburn from 1991-93 and spent nine years in the Major Leagues. He has helped Patterson in realizing that baseball is naturally a game of failure, but that the possibilities to succeed are endless once one realizes that there are ups and downs throughout the season.
"He has helped me out a lot," Patterson said. "He's a stand-up guy, an awesome role model and really helped me in making my transition from high school to college. I have a lot of respect for him."
Patterson has had some impressive home runs throughout his Auburn career. He hit his first home run against Eastern Tennessee State in 2008, was credited with a 508-foot home run against Mississippi State in 2010 and had his first multi-home run game against Alabama in 2010, which he recalls was a fun experience.
"I had a lot of friends in the stands that weekend," Patterson said. "At the end of the day having a great game, helping the team win and doing it in Tuscaloosa was a great feeling."
With exception to the Tony Caldwell grand slam last Tuesday, Auburn has seen, first hand, that the new bats are going to require both patience and practice. Patterson feels that even with the team they had last year, had they used the new bats, they likely would have seen a dip in productivity as well, but he refuses to make excuses.
"We're a different team from last year," Patterson said. "If you get a hold of a ball, it's still going to go, but you have to have more of a wooden bat approach to it. We try to stay gap to gap and focus on hitting more line drives and avoiding pop-ups."
Patterson knows that the veterans have to step up and help them make their transition and learn Coach Pawlowski's style of baseball. His biggest concern is getting everyone into the locker room and making sure that they are all on the same page, are making the proper adjustments and are ready to contribute. This is why he was named a team captain in 2009 and has held the title ever since.
"It's an honor to be a team captain," Patterson said. "It's humbling to know that the guys put me in that position and look to me for leadership. I accept the responsibility and hope to lead by example."
When asked about what kind of mark he hopes to leave here at Auburn, Patterson was quick to point out that he is not just here to boost his statistics and draft-stock, but rather that he is proud that he will leave here with a degree, that he gained valuable baseball experience and knowledge and that he hopefully helped in returning Auburn to a program that is considered one of the country's best.
"I just want to be remembered as a guy who had a hard work ethic," Patterson said. "Ultimately, I want to be known for always being a team guy, a captain, a leader and someone who always did the right things on and off the field."
by Michael Stagno, Auburn Media Relations
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