It was only three months ago the Ferndale senior catcher Matt James was one of four Golden Eagle baseball players to sign letters of intent to play college baseball.
And at that point, James was perfectly content to be heading, along with Ferndale teammate Mason Shaw, to Yakima Valley Community College.
But shortly after he signed with the Yaks, another school started to show interest – a much bigger school. You might have heard of it – Notre Dame.
“Actually, it never crossed my mind going into my senior year,” James said in a phone interview after committing to play for the Fighting Irish. “Once it came along, I knew it was a great opportunity. God put it in my way to take advantage of it. It’s one of those things you don’t have an explanation for. When it happens, it’s something else, and once it does, it’s hard to turn down.”
When it happens, it’s something else, and once it does, it’s hard to turn down.
Actually, James says it was looking at community colleges that actually helped him get noticed by Notre Dame. A former coach at Lower Columbia Community College who scouted James now is on the Irish staff, and when they needed a catcher from the Class of 2017, he recommended James.
Yakima Valley was completely behind the move.
“They brought me there with the hope that some day I would be able to move on play for a Division I school,” James said. “I just happened that that opportunity came along before I even went to Yakima. The coaches were really supportive, and that made it a lot easier for me.”
Since he came along so late in the recruiting process, James said he won’t get much athletic scholarship funds from Notre Dame, but academic scholarships will help pay for a big chunk of the tuition for the business major.
Once he visited South Bend, Indiana, last month, he was sold.
The tradition of the school, the beauty of everything there is amazing.
“The tradition of the school, the beauty of everything there is amazing,” James said. “And the quality of the facility is hands down unmatchable. It’s really a different place – it’s special. I was able to go into the athletic complex and see the indoor football facility and the weight room. They had all the Heismans and national championships up on display. That’s when it hit me – I was at the Notre Dame. It was so cool to see all that and the Golden Dome. And that’s just the start of it.”
James also will get a chance to play in one of the best college baseball conferences in the nation – the Atlantic Coast Conference, home to four of the top 25 teams in the country.
“I think my chances (of earning playing time) are pretty good,” James said. “They’re trying to get a lot of younger guys on the field as soon as they can. I’ll have to earn my playing time, but it’s doable. They have a couple of catchers that are sophomores, so I’ll have to work to stand out, but that’s what I like to do.”