Senior Nolan Becker has been playing organized sports since he was five—all of them. Throughout his time at Stuyvesant, Becker has found himself on five different teams: junior varsity football, varsity bowling, junior varsity and varsity basketball and varsity baseball. The teams have come and gone, and now as a senior, only varsity basketball and baseball remain.
For Becker, last fall was not the typical college-application frenzy that the rest of the senior class found itself in. By early July before his senior year, he already had a list of noteworthy universities that made him offers of admission, included the University of Pennsylvania, Yale, Harvard, Oregon, Villanova and Santa Clara. Baseball was Becker’s path to college admission.
Becker has pitched for the last four years as a member of Stuyvesant’s varsity baseball team. Last season he had a record of 3-0 with a 1.08 earned run average. His lefty dominance and 90 miles-per-hour fastball caught the attention of college scouts from Division I and II schools including the Ivy League. The average professional pitcher’s fastball is clocked between 89 and 91 miles-per-hour. “My parents’ importance on academics really played a large role in my decision,” Becker said. Becker committed to play baseball for the Division I Yale University Bulldogs on October 24, 2008.
Many students will often find it difficult to manage school work and extra-curricular activities, but for Becker it hasn’t been much of a problem. “Sports really keeps me organized,” he said. “The work ethic I developed from playing sports has helped me with my school work ethic as well. For me, they go hand in hand.”
Basketball has been another passion for Becker, which he developed when he was young and watched the New York Knicks on television. He joined the junior varsity basketball team as a sophomore, and that season he led the team with 18 points and 8 rebounds a game. The team went on to an undefeated record of 12-0 as Manhattan West Division A Champions.
Before basketball season began this winter, Becker had toyed with the idea of quitting basketball in order to focus more on his baseball career. “Baseball is my passion,” Becker said. “That’s been true for a few years now. When I realized my potential in baseball, I knew that it was something I had to pursue.”
Becker ultimately decided to play his final season with the Rebels. As a co-captain, he has helped lead the team to a 8-3 start including a one point overtime win over Seward Park Campus High School. In that game, Becker scored 41 points and had 23 rebounds. “Being a senior and captain, I feel it’s my responsibility to pick up any slack in games,” Becker said. “I think it’s on me to do whatever I have to do to help us win.” At six foot six inches tall, Becker has been a force this season for the Runnin’ Rebels. He averages 25 points and 17 rebounds per game, and is currently ranked sixth in the league in scoring per game, and fourth in rebounds.
With six games left in the season, Becker and the Rebels are looking to finish stronger than last year, when they closed the season 4-5. Becker averaged 18 points and 12 rebounds during that season, and 24 points and 9 rebounds in the only playoff game that was a controversial loss to Food and Finance High School.
“As soon as March first comes, it’s a whole new slate,” said baseball co-captain Zack Karson, speaking of Becker’s transition between his two sports. “But Nolan is always ready.”
Becker has been a member of the varsity baseball team since his freshman year. As a freshman he batted 0.278, as a sophomore he batted 0.333, and as a junior he batted 0.478. Coach Matt Hahn said, “[Nolan] has developed immensely from freshman year. He has improved at every stage.” So far he has won three team awards for baseball, including Rookie of the Year, Offensive Player of the Year and Most Valued Player.
Though his basketball career is winding down to a finish, Becker will still have four years of college baseball before him. A possible shot at the major leagues, according to him, will be determined through hard work and motivation—two things that he certainly doesn’t lack.