Back finds success in ‘back-yard’

Every college student struggles with time management between going to class, studying, working and trying to maintain a social life. But add in baseball practice and up to six games a week and things can get really tough.

“Baseball demands a lot of time between practice and games. You really have to fit your schedule around baseball, it’s almost like a job,” Northern Kentucky University senior shortstop Jon Back said.

Back played baseball and football at William Henry Harrison High School in Harrison, Ohio and was recruited to play baseball at NKU during his junior year.

“NKU was close to home and I knew my dad and grandpa would want to see me play,” he said. “I got along with the coach and they offered me a really good scholarship. Plus I thought I would actually get some playing time here – I’ve started every year.”

Back was somewhat of a star at Harrison, but he found that college baseball was a lot harder.

“In high school, every team has a few good players, but it’s usually a walk in the park,” he said. “But when you’re in college, everyone is just as good as you.”

Even so, NKU Head Baseball Coach Todd Asalon said Back is playing as well as any college ball player. As of April 6, Back is batting .354 for the season including five homeruns, has driven in 22 runs and scored 34 times. Back has also been valuable on the bases, stealing 15 out of 17 attempts.

“He’s been rock solid. If I could recruit more players like Jon Back, my job would be a lot easier,” Asalon said.

But Back isn’t looking to take his stats to the big league. Next season will be spent finishing out his education at NKU.

“I’ve already played four years, so I can’t play next year unless I’m picked up by a minor league team like the Florence Freedom,” he said. “If I have a chance to play after this season, I’ll decide whether that’s what I want to do. If not, I’ll just hang up my cleats.”

Like many seniors, Back hasn’t quite finished his requirements to graduate, but when he does, he hopes to be a high school social studies teacher and baseball coach.

“Coaching is nothing new to him. He’s worked at our annual baseball camp for kids and he’s great. He’s the son of a coach and he really knows the game,” Asalon said.

When he catches a break from baseball, Back enjoys golfing and videogames.

“I like golf, but I don’t play much during baseball season,” he said. “It’s a different kind of swing and I don’t want to mess anything up.”

As for the videogames, he’s currently enjoying Super Smash Brothers for the Nintendo 64.

Even though Back will still be at NKU next year, he’ll definitely be missed on the team.

“Back is a great player,” Asalon said. “I have a son and if he grows up to be like Jon Back, I’ll be happy.”