BLHS graduate Gripka to play baseball at KCKCC
Justin Gripka has always prided himself on being a good teammate; a player who didn’t belittle the other players on his team.
In games, if things were ever going poorly, he stayed positive.
“You want your teammates to like you, and that way they will play better on the court,” he said. “If you are hard on the players on your teams, they will not try as hard for you. You just try and help them along, if they have down times, you have to try and pick them up, get them back on the horse.”
Gripka speaks from experience. He played varsity soccer, basketball and at Basehor-Linwood High School. Not always the flashiest player, he led by example.
“I never was a vocal leader; but tried to do it with my play and get them to follow that,” he said.
Gripka will have a new crop of teammates this fall when he joins the Kansas City Kansas Community College baseball program. He just hopes to get some playing time and fit in on the team.
KCKCC was Gripka’s best choice for various reasons.
“Yeah, I was looking to go to a community college first, that way after two years if I decide to go on and play or not, I am not tied to a four-year school. It is good to get the credits done as cheap as possible.”
He is excited about prospect of playing baseball in college. He said he was pleased to have a decision made and eager to start playing, with workouts beginning the first week of school.
Gripka, a right-handed pitcher, said to play regularly on the KCKCC squad, he’ll have to get better.
“I think it will take a lot of work, and I need to improve the velocity on my fastball,” he said. “I have been working with Jeremy Sheehan, work on mechanics and improving on things. It is definitely going to take a lot of work to get playing time.”
Gripka throws a fastball, curve ball and is working on a change up, which he said has improved since the high school season.
He was part of a high school class of athletes that defeated Bishop Ward for the first time in years. He was part of the basketball team that won the Class 4A Boys State basketball title.
“Oh yeah, our goal at the beginning of year is always getting to state,” he said. “Once we got past the first game, everyone was like, ‘We can win this thing.’ Everyone believed, we put three good games together and took the whole thing.”
Justin is the son of Steve and Mary Ann Gripka.