Pitcher Hank Evju’s Route to JUCO Athletics & Varsity Baseball

Class of 2022 Hank Evju, his struggle to reach Varsity baseball, and commitment to Diablo Valley College.


Hank Evju throws a pitch for Bishop O’Dowd

Max Kim, Contributer

Nothing came easy for Hank Evju ’22. As an undersized pitcher joining an established baseball program at Bishop O’Dowd, playing time and opportunity were scarce during his first 3 years on the team. With all odds against him, Evju fluctuated between freshman and JV teams. He notes the lowest moment as making the freshman baseball team as a sophomore due to a roster and numbers crunch. Evju got promoted to JV a week into the season, only to have COVID shut down the rest of his season before it even started. With COVID-19’s negative impact on his sophomore and most of his junior year, the now senior pitcher ended up on JV at the end of his junior year. However, Hank was newly motivated to not only make varsity his senior year but to thrive in his position. It started at his middle school up the street, where he became motivated to reach this pinnacle of athletic success through nonstop practice. His motivation had come from one simple ingredient: failure. 

Hank Evju’s screensaver of a conversation with his former baseball captain, which ultimately motivated him to work even harder

Evju’s goals rested far beyond just varsity baseball. Growing up, the aspiring pitcher spent weekends either playing organized baseball or watching it on TV. His love for the game grew with every pitch thrown and every dinger hit, but as he grew older, he became determined to become a successful pitcher.

Adversity struck Evju over the years of his adolescence, as he repeatedly heard people doubt his skill. These ideas festered at times, and when it was time for him to choose a high school to attend to play baseball and earn a role, he chose Bishop O’Dowd. Despite certain schools having more opportunities to play large surpluses of minutes with a disparity of playing talent, Evju chose to learn and train with a school known for producing collegiate athletes.

When COVID-19 hit, Evju maximized his time, dropping 40 pounds of fat, then adding on 10 pounds of muscle. Going to the gym 6 days a week and cutting out the majority of processed foods from his diet combined with spending every evening practicing pitching at his old middle school (most fields were closed because of COVID-19) exponentially improved Evju’s playing abilities and physique. After the past 3 tumultuous years, Evju had a plan. He would network with as many schools as possible to gain their attention, and with his quieter demeanor and persona, he would let his play do the rest of the talking for him. After receiving two community college baseball offers, along with a single Division 2 and a Division 3 collegiate baseball offer, Evju chose to commit to Diablo Valley College this past fall and is planning to study and grow his game over the next two years.

Evju’s athletic life was one of great difficulty; he was consistently told what he could not do, rather than what he could. From being told he was not good enough to play baseball at Skyline or O’Dowd from his former middle school baseball captain to being told that he was not good enough for the collegiate level, Evju has found a state of mind where he can take control: tenacity.

Growing not only his pitching skills but his game and his mindset, Evju looks to crack the rotation his rookie year this upcoming fall, just 45 minutes down the road. At the time of this article, Hank Evju was able to not only make varsity this year but has since returned to the program 30 pounds lighter, and to his closest family and friends, a whole new player and person. Attached below is an interview with the latest O’Dowd athlete baseball committee, Hank Evju.

“First off, I wanted to say congratulations on your commitment to Diablo Valley College to play baseball for the next two years. Educate me on your decision to go the alternative route from a traditional 4-year university, in playing and attending school for 2 years in a JUCO program?” (For those who do not know, the word and symbol JUCO is an abbreviation for junior college, aka. community college, and will be mentioned many times throughout this article)

“It was a multi-faceted decision for me. Number one was due to playing time. If I attended or committed to a 4-year university, it would require me to redshirt or ride the bench my first year in college. Number two was the financial reason, as my best scholarships for baseball still left me having to pay 50-60% of my college tuition, rather than receiving full financial aid.” 

“A lot of people try to walk on to Division 1-3 sports at colleges after receiving admittance, how was the experience trying to get college’s attention to bring you on this upcoming fall?”

“It was pretty draining, although social media made the process a lot easier. I must have contacted around 100 institutions, but I only heard back from only 10, and really had only 6-7 colleges with genuine interest. It was a really rough process but I was able to get through it. There is so much denial you face that it is hard to motivate yourself, but you have to get through it.” 

“I know that you have consistently committed to networking through Twitter with college baseball coaches. Was social media a contributing factor towards your 4 total baseball offers, between Divisions two, three, and JUCO schools?”

“Yeah, 100%. I think I would not have gotten any of those offers if it was not for social media.” 

“Walk me through your daily routine on how you stay in shape being both a pitcher and a gym rat.”

“It varies on the days I have and do not have practice. It depends if I’m pitching that day or if I’m not. After school, I jump in the car, drop off my school stuff, grab a snack, and drive to the gym to get an hour and a half lift in. After the gym, I eat again then head to practice around 6:15.”

“Practice gets out around 9:00-9:15, and I’ll go home and do my homework, then eat, sleep, and repeat. This is 4 days a week. The other few days vary between a rest day or if it is a game day.”

“Deciding to play college baseball just a 45-minute drive from your home, was the proximity to home an appeal of playing at Diablo Valley College?”

“Yes, 100%.”

“Would attending a 4-year university for baseball after JUCO appeal to you after you finish and receive your associate’s degree in two years? If so, does distance to home matter in your decision?”

“It depends on a lot of things. It depends on my scholarships, my playing time guaranteed, I think I’ll just have to wait and see.”

“What perks can an athlete receive from going the JUCO route?”

“Lots of things. Going JUCO allows for 2 more years to develop, and you are more likely to get a scholarship. Colleges are more likely to want on their team a 20-year-old man over an 18-year-old kid. Coaches also like the grittiness Juco players have, and players also save a lot of money”

“Lastly, could you please explain to me and fellow readers what the term ‘JUCO Bandit’ means?”

A JUCO Bandit is a dude that may not have the flashiness, gear, and exposure a D1 player has. But he works twice as hard and will do whatever it takes to get that D1 guy’s spot. 

“Thank you for your time, I look forward to your next 2 years as a collegiate professional.”

“Thank you, still a lot more work to do.”