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Athlete Closeup: Ethan Valdez
February 15, 2019
As Nicholls baseball opens the season against Southern Illinois on Feb. 15, it will be the beginning of senior Ethan Valdez’s last season as a Colonel.
Since Valdez’s freshman year, he has grown both on and off the field. This year, Valdez managed to receive an all-conference first team honor, and Head Coach Seth Thibodeaux said that it is no coincidence that Ethan is successful.
“Ethan is unselfish, competitive and a leader. The things like that combined with doing that every single day [is what makes him successful]. He never shows laziness. He never shows weakness. He is ready and happy and appreciative every day, and that makes me a better coach,” Thibodeaux said.
Thibodeaux said Valdez’s preseason first team title will not change his attitude or personal expectations.
“I would imagine that if anybody could handle a preseason all-conference, that is him because I don’t think he realizes it. That is not really one of his goals. He is just kinda beyond things like that; he is very mature,” Thibodeaux said.
Valdez said that receiving such a title does not change his view on himself or his own expectations. He said that Nicholls baseball alumni advised him to just enjoy his last collegiate season.
“I’ve been talking to a lot of the alumni, and one thing that they all have in common that they told me was to just enjoy the year. It is my last year playing college ball and I should not get caught up in anything other than enjoying playing with my team, because you can never get those moments back,” Valdez said.
Furthermore, for the first time in his college career, Valdez will play a shortstop position. He said that with this new position comes new responsibilities, however, in the end, it is still the same game.
“You have to cover a lot more range. You direct traffic in that position away and you are looked at as a leader from the team,” Valdez said. “[Playing shortstop compared to last year] is playing on the different side of the field, but at the end of the day, it’s still catching the ball and going to the first base, so it shouldn’t be too much of a difference in that case.”
Thibodeaux said there’s importance to the shortstop position and the leadership you gain from playing it.
“Well, it is a quarterback of the team, and everyone turns to that position for leadership whether you want to or not. He’s got to direct traffic everywhere. He’s got to make sure that the outfielders are ready to go. He’s got to make sure the pitcher is ready. He’s got to lift the team, so not only is he going to play shortstop, but he is going to lead us as a team,” Thibodeaux said.
Transfer sophomore Austin France said he’s also felt the significance of Valdez’s presence on the team. For France, Valdez is a well-respected teammate and role model.
“This is my first year at Nicholls, but Ethan has been a big leader and role model to me ever since my visit to Nicholls last spring,” France said. “He brings a strong passion and intensity to the game and allows everyone to build off of it. With him being here for four years and buying into the program, you know he is a well-respected teammate and will do anything for this team.”
These past four years have also left a mark on Valdez. When reflecting on his past years, Valdez said it’s shaped him into the man he is today.
“It definitely not only has changed how life is on the field, but coach is big on character and our program and has helped shape me from a young man,” Valdez said. “He has given me more tools off the field than he ever gave me on the field to become that better man in life.”