Once in awhile, there comes along a story that just makes the Panther fan smile. You get the warm, fuzzy feeling that this school is finally becoming the place that we always knew it could be. I got this smile when the state approved the Schools of Public Health and Freshwater Sciences. It’s a step in the right direction.
This semester, another move in the right direction is coming on campus. He would be Derek Peake, a June graduate of Catholic Memorial who had a scholarship all set to go at D-II St. Cloud State to be a defensive back for their football team. Over the summer, however, Peake cooled off to football at St. Cloud State and warmed up to baseball. So, he enrolled at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, whose Milwaukee Panthers are the pinnacle of collegiate baseball in the state of Wisconsin. I got in touch with Derek and we talked about his decision.
Jimmy Lemke: You had a scholarship to St. Cloud State for football. Why did you decide to drop the scholarship to walk-on at Milwaukee?
Derek Peake: I decided to walk-on at Milwaukee because baseball has always been my passion, and playing here was my goal. It was hard to tell St. Cloud State football coaches that I was leaving their school, they have a very successful program.
JL: What was it about the university that said you want to play baseball for them?
DP: I wanted to play at Milwaukee because it gives the opportunity to play at the highest level possible. As a player, I want to play against the best competition there is and Milwaukee gives me the chance to do that.
JL: You moved from the infield to the outfield during high school. Is that where you think you’ll play in college? Why?
DP: I believe I will play outfield in college because it allows me to use the tools that I have best. I can use my speed and athletic ability to track down fly balls.
JL: What are your impressions of Scott Doffek and Cory Bigler?
DP: I have gone to Milwaukee baseball camps throughout high school and I have really bought into what they are teaching to players about fundamentals and how to play the game. They are very good coaches who give our team a chance to win the Horizon League year after year.
JL: You will be walking on as a freshman. Did they say you could earn a scholarship in the future?
DP: Yes, Coach Doffek said I can earn a scholarship with hard work and visible improvement to my game.
JL: What is it about baseball that you enjoy so much to give up on a football scholarship?
DP: I love the challenge of hitting, and the pride that comes with being successful. I also like diving for fly balls and getting dirty sliding into a base.
Derek Peake will begin classes as a freshman on Monday at UWM. He joins a baseball team that is coming off a Horizon League championship and appearance in the NCAA tournament, where they fought hard before falling to No. 1 overall seed Arizona State in the opening round.