Camdenton senior Dylan McGuire has a hard time being away from the baseball field.
McGuire has been playing the game of baseball since he could walk and his desire and passion for it has only continued to grow so he decided that four more years on the diamond sounded pretty good as he took a pen and signed with NAIA Park University on Friday afternoon amongst family, coaches, teammates and friends.
“It takes a special breed to play baseball every day. You have to want it really bad and I have seen people over the years where you can just tell as soon as you meet a baseball player if they really want it or don’t,” McGuire said. “It sets them apart.”
Camdenton coach Bryce Durnin, who coached at nearby Park Hill South High School before taking over as the skipper for the Lakers two years ago, would describe the All-Conference and All-District catcher as one of those players. The coach noted that his commitment to the game in both the season and offseason has made this possible.
“I think him going to Park University is reflected upon him playing through the summer, his work in the fall and winter and that is kind of what it takes nowadays,” the coach noted. “There are a lot of kids working hard, there are a lot of opportunities out there and you just have to take advantage of it. It does not mean it has to be baseball all year round, but it has to be in competition and that is what he had done. He has put himself in this position and it is kind of ironic, but I can visualize that field right now. I know exactly where he is going and I think it is a good fit.”
When McGuire visited the campus in Riverside near Kansas City, he was looking for a home and that is exactly what he took away from his visit there.
“I love the game and there is nothing I want to do more than play baseball. When I got the opportunity to talk to Coach (Cary) Lundy from Park, he was just so enthused to talk to me and that was just something that really hit home,” McGuire remarked. “He was excited to have me on the team and they hosed me all around, showed me the facilities and I was so excited. They made me feel like I was at home already and I had not even signed yet so that was just the greatest thing.
“I’m just excited to get to know everybody. I met a couple of guys when I was up there for my visit, but I want to get with the whole team and just be involved in that collegiate baseball atmosphere,” the senior added.
Durnin said Mcguire will quickly find that the baseball players there love the game just as much as he does.
“Anytime you play baseball at the next level at any school it is good baseball. These players are there to compete,” the coach stated. “It may be a size issue, it may be something that is unconventional, but their baseball talent is good. I consider the “Northland” of Kansas City where Park University is a hotbed of baseball. They love baseball up there and play it all the time so he’ll walk in and have to earn his keep for sure.”
McGuire may be ready to begin a new journey, but he will always be grateful for his roots and the privilege of being a baseball player in Camdenton.
“This place is my home. I have grown up here and never lived anywhere else,” McGuire said of Camdenton. “I don’t know if I am ready to leave, but I’m excited to see what is out there for me. There are just so many great things around here from the atmosphere at the high school to the town and all the people supporting you in everything you do. It is just that small town environment and you cannot get enough of it.”
The senior is also excited to see what the returning ballplayers can do for the program moving forward.
“These guys are a great group of teams,” McGuire said of his Camdenton teammates. “The freshmen this year have tied the win record and the freshmen last year were the ones to break it so those two classes of freshmen and sophomores are doing great things. The junior class is not as big, but they’ve got some really good baseball players in there too and I am really excited to see what happens with them.”
One thing Durnin will miss the most about the senior is his passion for the game permeating to the rest of the club.
“He is a baseball junkie who thinks about baseball all the time and loiters around the field because he does not want to leave it. I think if anything, you want guys like that around your program because you have to tell them to go home,” Durnin said. “If any of the younger guys looks at Dylan McGuire, I want them to think about the fact that he is often the last one to leave and he is the guy up there loitering, talking about baseball and thinking about it. When you have those types of kids, their baseball IQ, knowledge and experience just increases and so does your talent and ability to win.”
Of course, McGuire’s presence and ability on the field will be missed as well as his ability to be a leader and connect with his teammates.
“I’m always reminded when Dylan makes a great play defensively, how hard that is going to be to replace. His experience as the starting catcher the lat four years we take for granted sometimes,” Durnin pointed out. “It is not necessarily just his ability on the field, but his ability to manage his teammates and friends and navigate the game trying to meet these players where they are at. That is hard to do and that is going to be hard to replace.”
McGuire plans to study sports management and is considering whether he will pursue the field of sports marketing or coaching.