Last week Northwestern’s Zach Risedorf was invited to work out for three Major league Baseball teams, the San Diego Padres, the Cincinnati Reds and the Pittsburgh Pirates.
All three workouts take place during the last week of May. If Risedorf goes, he will be ruled ineligible by the CIAC.
“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Risedorf said. “Ultimately, it’s my goal and my dream to play in the pros.”
After thinking long and hard about what to do and with the support of his parents Shane and Diane, Risedorf has decided that he will be attending the workouts on May 25 in Cincinnati for the Padres, May 26 in Amherst, Mass., for the Pirates and a date that has not been determined for the Reds.
“We sat down and asked him what he wanted to do and he said he wants to go,” his father, Shane Risedorf said.
Risedorf will only miss the Highlanders’ final regular season game on May 27 against Lewis Mills and any state tournament games they might play in.
“I had to sit down and really weigh the pros and cons,” Risedorf said. “I had to see what was more important for me as a person. Obviously, I don’t want to leave my team. It pains me that I have to do that. It was a little heart-aching. I knew it would be a tough decision.”
Article XII of the CIAC by-laws states, “Participation as an individual or as a member on a non-school sponsored team in a sports competition, practice, showcase, try-out, camp or clinic in the same branch of athletics during the authorized contest season will render the athlete ineligible for all interscholastic athletics unless the athlete is reinstated by the CIAC Board of Control. (Season is defined as the date of the first contest for that school and concluding with either the CIAC final tournament game or the New England Championships).”
If the workouts had happened prior to the beginning of the baseball season, Risedorf wouldn’t have had any issues.
Before coming to the decision though, Northwestern’s athletic director Fred Williams spoke to two members of the CIAC on Wednesday about getting Risedorf an exception, which was denied.
“The CIAC has the safety of the kids in mind,” Williams said. “I talked to two different guys and they don’t grant exceptions here.”
“You can see both sides of the story. It’s tough for a kid, it’s an awkward position to be in.”
The CIAC does grant exceptions in other cases.
If the student-athlete was trying out for the Olympic or Pan American Games, if they participated in a one national governing body (NGB) sponsored national tournament, in an international competition (sports not sponsored by the International Olympics Committees) or if the student-athlete participated in a college audition, where they are invited by a college coach to visit the campus and participate in workouts by themselves or with teammates or in a clinic offered by a college.
Risedorf traveled down to Miami the last two winters to participate in the Power Showcase at Marlins Park with 130 of the brightest young baseball players in the nation, while participating in the Power Showcase’s community outreach initiative “Home Runs that Help.” He has the support of his good friend and fellow captain John Lippincott and his coach Tom Germano.
“I haven’t told anyone else but Johnny,” Risedorf said. “At first, he wasn’t too keen on the idea but after we talked about it for a while, he said that everyone on the team would want me to strive for what I want to do He’s (Germano) happy for me.”
Risedorf was named a Perfect Game All-American before this season and last season batted .617 with 39 hits, 21 doubles and two home runs in 26 games, on top of being the best defensive catcher in the Berkshire League, while leading the Highlanders to the Class M final last season, where they lost to St. Joseph 2-1 in nine innings.
Risedorf, who is committed to UConn next season, is looking at being drafted this summer and going to these workouts could help him.
“His dream is to play baseball. He’s trying to make a living at it,” Shane Risedorf said.
If he were to get drafted and sign with the MLB team that drafted him, on top of a signing bonus, Risedorf will receive scholarship money so that he could go back to college whenever he wanted.
Just because he will be ruled ineligible doesn’t mean that Risedorf will be out of the picture as he plans on being there to support his teammates.
“Absolutely if I can make it I will be there,” he said.