Scott Shaw will toe the rubber in Sunday's series finale as Illinois travels to Ohio State this weekend.
May 7, 2008
Hey Illini Fans!
We're down to our final two Big Ten series of the season, and they are two big ones. We leave tomorrow for Ohio State. The Buckeyes are always tough and this year will be no exception. We are in third place in the conference right now, three games behind second-place Purdue and a first-round Big Ten Tournament bye. But it's important that nobody gets ahead of themselves and looks forward to that final series at Illinois Field with the Boilermakers. A bunch of teams are really close to each other in the standings so any stumble could hurt. But at the same time, this weekend will be a good opportunity to have a good showing and put some distance between us and the rest of the field. Be sure to listen to the games on the radio or follow along on GameTracker this weekend.
To close this edition of Diamond Notes, I leave you with something I wrote that appeared in last weekend's game program at Illinois Field. I recently talked to a handful of former Illini and found out what they were up to these days since they weren't playing in affiliated minor league baseball.
I thought people might want to hear how some former Illini are doing and where their lives after Illinois Baseball have taken them so far. I'm reposting it here in case some of you didn't get a chance to make it out to the field last weekend or didn't pick up a game program.
Jake Stewart // RHP // 2003-06
Since his last year of Fighting Illini Baseball in 2006, Stewart finished his master's degree in Human Resources and began his career in human resources with The Home Depot, serving the Champaign, Normal, and Peoria locations. In November 2007, he married the former Jessica Mueller with approximately 15 former and current Illini baseball players at the wedding.
In March, he and Jessica moved to Charlotte, N.C., to pursue other career opportunities. He currently is employed at Liberty Mutual, working with short-term disability claims, and the Stewarts are looking to purchase a home in downtown Charlotte. Last October, Jake ran and completed the Chicago Marathon. He says his favorite memories from his time at Illinois are all of his teammates and the friendships he built with them, and winning the Big Ten Championship in 2005.
Aaron Ifft // C/RHP // 2004-07
Ifft was a mainstay on Fighting Illini Baseball teams for four years and graduated in May 2007. He is currently working for Enterprise Rent-A-Car in Champaign and is engaged to be married in June 2009. He spends his free time watching Fighting Illini Baseball and playing golf when he can. Ifft says his favorite baseball memory from his time at Illinois was stepping in admirably for an injured Chris Robinson in the series at Michigan State in 2005.
Mike Rohde // 3B/1b // 2005-07
After finishing his Fighting Illini Baseball career and graduating from the University of Illinois in 2007, Mike has been fortunate enough to continue playing baseball. Last season, he played with the Schaumburg Flyers of the Northern League and will be starting this season with the Gary SouthShore RailCats after being traded. In the offseason, he worked as a news and sports photographer for WCIA-3 TV in Champaign, where he says he had great experiences working with such an established and successful television station.
He is looking forward joining the RailCats and getting back on the baseball diamond in a couple of weeks and eventually hopes to be signed by a major league organization. Rohde says he will never forget winning the Big Ten Championship in 2005, but he will also always remember time spent off the field with teammates and coaches and will miss the bus rides, plane trips and hotel stays.
Omar Kadir // RHP // 2006-07
Kadir pitched for the Fighting Illini for two seasons, and is currently still very involved with the game. He is an assistant coach for his former junior college team and an American Legion team in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada, where he recently bought a home. He also started his own fall pitching clinic. Kadir says his favorite baseball memory from his time in Champaign was pitching in the last game of the 2007 regular season against Michigan State and being a part of the dramatic comeback to get into the Big Ten Tournament.
Brian Long // RHP // 2006-07
Long was a member of the Fighting Illini pitching staff for two seasons after transferring from Eastern Illinois. He is currently still taking classes at the university and will be graduating in May with a degree in aerospace engineering. After graduation, Long will be working as a systems engineer for Rockwell Collins in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, working on business and regional jet avionic systems.
Dave Schultz // 1B/Volunteer Assistant Coach // 2006-07
Schultz experienced both the playing and the coaching sides of Fighting Illini Baseball during his two years in Champaign. He transferred from Creighton and finished out his baseball eligibility as a first baseman for the 2006 squad then became a volunteer assistant coach for the 2007 Fighting Illini. After graduating in 2007, he became the hitting coach for the Madison Mallards of the Northwoods League, where he helped lead the team to the second-highest batting average in the league.
He moved to Charleston, Ill., in August 2007 and also become engaged. Schultz currently is the manager of a car wash in Mattoon, Ill., but will be moving to Madison in the middle of May to be closer to family and take a position as a Field Sales Representative for Dish Network.
Ryan Snowden // OF // 2006-07
Snowden hit leadoff and played left field for two Fighting Illini Baseball teams. He is currently taking some courses while also working at Carle Hospital in the sports medicine/physical therapy department. Right now, he is job shadowing a physician's assistant in orthopedics and plans on applying to graduate schools for the fall semester. Snowden says he will always remember the camaraderie that can only be experienced within a team sport from his time as a member of the Fighting Illini Baseball team.
That's all for now.