By Jeremy McDonald
When you hear Survivors ‘Eye of The Tiger’, images may run of iconic scenes from the movie Rocky and the underdog Rocky Balboa overcoming adversity for a chance to live his dream boxing.
Bryce Reichmann, the Roseville High School graduate and former Sierra College baseball pitcher, is living his version of Rocky through the ‘Eye of the Tiger’.
Let’s back track three years, to Reichmann’s junior year of high school when he was playing on a travel ball squad, playing in front of collegiate recruits.
This is when this college sophomore got discouraged of the sport he had played his whole life.
“When I was out there,” said Reichmann. “No one was really interested in me because I couldn’t hit 80 miles an hour and I got discouraged. I remember coming back into the dugout one time and a coach told me, ‘Can you hit 80 miles an hour on the gun so I can try to sell you to a school’.
“No one really wanted me there and I got discouraged with the sport and I just got burnt out. So I took a year off and decided that baseball wasn’t going to be for me.
His senior year he worked at Baskin Robbins off of Foothill Blvd in Roseville and played water polo.
But during this time, he realized his passion was still there with baseball.
“While I was at Baskin Robbins, I really missed it and I wanted to get back into it,” said Reichmann. “I went to a Crossfit gym got into really good shape. I played water polo that year, so I honestly say my senior year I was in the best shape of my life.”
He met up with pitching coach Dan Greenhalgh to get his pitching mechanics back to par, and Reichmann hit a ‘growth spurt’ of sorts in his pitching.
“When I got back into it, I started working with my pitching coach again, my velocity had jumped tremendously.”
Two months after he started throwing again, Reichmann was throwing 86, 88 and eventually hit the 90 miles an hour mark.
“It was just fun getting back into it,” he said. “I didn’t realize what it was like to go without it until you experience it. It gave me a better appreciation for the game.”
That’s when he arrived at Sierra College in Rocklin.
The preparation for the four year tested one’s senses at the junior college level.
“At the college level it’s a little different than the high school level,” said Reichmann. “They can talk to you with a little bit more intensity at the college level, and really prepare you for the intense situation.
“When you’re out there it’s not just the coaches, it’s your peers, it’s everyone out there. Everyone at Sierra wanted it more than anyone wanted it at high school.”
But the hard work would pay off.
By Reichmann’s sophomore season, he was 4-6 in 11 starts with 46 strikeouts and a 3.46 earn-run-average.
“He has gone from sort of a nobody his first semester to our ace by his sophomore season,” said Wolverines Head Coach Robert Willson. “He did this by working hard and listening and learning our pitching philosophy. We have a very unique philosophy which is different from other teams.”
“Sierra was just a great program out there and the coaches made me understand it more,” said Reichmann. “Every level higher, I imagine people want it more, they’re all more dedicated to the sport.”
His hard work paid off, receiving an offer at NCAA Division-I St. Mary’s College in Moraga, California.
“When I gone to visit, the campus was really nice,” “It’s a smaller campus. To be honest I might be going to a campus that’s smaller than Sierra. It’s going to be different.”
St. Mary’s student body this year is 3,055. Sierra College is at 18, 635 for their student body.
But that’s no big deal as Reichmann focuses on the task at hand to help out a Gaels team that went 28-27 in 2015.
“When I talked to the coaches, how they broke it down their program for me,” he said. “They video tape your bullpen, they watch everything. They have their weight room on the side; they have you run a lot.
“That seems like a program that really would help me.”
Eric Valenzuela and his coaching staff explained that every spot on the chart is open and that you have to come back and work hard for your spot every year.
“You got to come back and earn if you were a starter last year,” said Reichmann. “Work hard at it and they see it in you, I could be a starter, I could fill in as a reliever…but if you give it all, only good can come out of it.”
But as any good athlete knows, the classroom is just as important as athletics. For Reichmann, the business major reiterates the idea of being a Student-Athlete, knowing that athletics isn’t forever.
“Academics is basically everything,” “That’s what you’re going to school for. That’s your priority, school and I’m trying to do my hardest to get the best grades that I can.
“When you get out of school, you don’t have anything to your name. I could put down I play baseball and worked at Baskin Robbins my senior year, but the first thing they’ll see is where you came from and what your GPA is. The higher GPA is, (it) shows your work ethic.”
Reichmann also added onto his belief that hard work in the classroom pays off in the real world and that A’s and B’s have a higher weight than C’s and D’s.
As finals wind down at Sierra College, the hopes are high for Reichmann as he reports for the prospect league in Illinois on Saturday, May 23 to play for the Danville Dans for two and a half months.
“The prospect league, St. Mary hooked me up with that,” “They provide such great learning experiences. It’s going to be different going out there.”
Someone Reichmann was speaking with said that average attendance to games were about 1,800 people.
“I mean I never played in front of that,” said Reichmann with a laugh. “It’s going to be a different experience. You’re going to learn to be around that, you’re going to learn to make your pitches under that kind of pressure.”
It is something that Reichmann is ready to tackle.
In a matter of three years, Reichmann went from feeling discouraged about playing the sport he loved to working his way up to a Division-I College team.
Bryce Reichmann, a modern day Rocky Balboa. A modern day ‘Eye of The Tiger’.