Columbus baseball player Jerrette Lee had to take a look from the stage out at the crowd gathered in the auditorium on Wednesday at the school.
He smiled and shook his head.
“This is phenomenal,” he said. “All these cameras, all these people, all the support. It just makes me think back to all the people who have supported me along the way.”
Lee signed a letter of intent to play baseball at the University of Pennsylvania, a Division I school for baseball but, more importantly to him, an Ivy League education.
“I always wanted to play Division I baseball, but, you know, not everyone can be a professional baseball player,” he said. “I wanted to go to Penn because of the educational background and the millionaires and billionaires that have come out of Penn. I wanted my Plan A to be as strong as my Plan B.”
But that doesn’t mean he isn’t going to Penn hoping to make an impact on the baseball field. While he only played in five games and recording one hit as a junior last season, Lee made an impression in travel ball and Perfect Game baseball showcases, earning notice from a handful of different schools and eventually the scholarship offer from Penn.
Lee said that while his path was different than many high school baseball players, who are well-known for their exploits on their high school teams, he wanted to prove that he was just as capable as others who go on to play college or professional ball.
“Because of my situation, I had to work very hard to get where I’m at, constantly grinding over the summer with my travel ball coaches,” he said. “(I had to be) constantly out there playing, I had to go to showcases, up my numbers. It became more of a self-driven type of thing. I had to compete against myself and get better every time I went out there, and show that I can play.”
Lee will begin play at the school in the 2017 season and has been told he has a shot to earn playing time at center fielder right away. Right now, though, he is looking forward to his senior season at Columbus. He hopes to make an impact in his final year and told his fellow team members during a prepared speech at his ceremony that he is expecting big things.
“I really believe we can do it, win a championship,” he said.
Columbus begins its regular season on Tuesday against Woodward Academy.