Perseverance, hard work pays off for Holy Trinity trio

Baumann, Forde and Smith sign to play sports in college


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Holy Trinity seniors (from l-r) Jaden Smith, Brian Baumann and Tyler Forde became the latest Tigers to sign their national letters of intent to play sports in college.

VIERA VOICE Carl Kotala

There was a time when Jaden Smith was told he wasn’t big enough to play Division I baseball.

There was a time when Tyler Forde didn’t want to play football.

There was also a time when lacrosse player Brian Baumann wondered if the injury he sustained in his junior year would affect his recruiting since his highlight tape from that season totaled less than a minute.

And yet here the three Holy Trinity seniors were on Wednesday, signing their national letters of intent to continue their careers at the collegiate level.

“It means a lot,” Smith said. “A lot of hard work, a lot of sacrifices all coming together. It was worth it.”

While Smith signed to play baseball at Alcorn State, Forde made it official that he will play football for Keiser University and Baumann inked his NLI to play lacrosse at Lenoir-Rhyne.

“It’s incredible,” Baumann said. “I’ve been waiting for this day since I committed. It’s a dream come true.”

Two things about Lenoir-Rhyne stood out to Baumann – it’s beautiful campus in Hickory, North Carolina, and the fact it has a top-notch nursing program.

Though everything worked out in the end, Baumann admitted there were some tough times during his junior year. He broke his collarbone during the second practice of the season and, after finally coming back to play four games, broke it again.

“It definitely hindered me because I only had 52 seconds of highlight tape,” Baumann said. “It wasn’t as much as I would have liked it to be.”

In the end, however, Baumann got the chance to follow in the footsteps of former Holy Trinity standout Matt Scott, who celebrated his signing day during Baumann’s freshman year. It was after watching Smith sign to play at Christopher Newport University that Baumann started dreaming about the possibility of playing lacrosse in college.

Forde, meanwhile, always figured his future was in basketball. That’s why he initially rejected coach Nate Hooks Jr.’s efforts to come out for football until the spring of his sophomore season.

“My mom told me it’s high school, it’s about trying new things,” Forde said. “I tried it and I loved it. I don’t want to stop.”

Forde plans to major in criminal justice and eventually attend the FBI Academy.

Although he played on both sides of the ball in his two seasons with the Tigers, Forde will play defensive back at Keiser.

“This day means a lot to me,” he said. “I’ve come a long way. I was thinking I was going to play basketball all my life and then I played football and I loved it.

“I developed a strong work ethic at a young age and I’ve been pushing really hard to do this. … This was a way for me to go to college and pursue my dreams at the same time.”

Putting in the work was never an issue for Smith, either.

His 5-foot-6, 150-pound frame may not be imposing, but his ability to get the most out of himself, well, that’s immeasurable.

“Ever since I started playing in high school, my recruiting process … I didn’t have the ideal size,” he said. “In order to compensate for my size, I had to work 10 times harder. I had to field extra ground balls late at night after practice.”

His parents also bought him a batting cage to put in their backyard. All those ground balls and all that extra hitting paid off, and now he’s going to be on his way to majoring in physical therapy.

“Overall, it worked out well,” he said. “I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. It feels good that I actually overcame the impossible. I beat the odds.

“My faith in God is what led me through all the obstacles. This right here is like a perfect movie ending.”