Long journey lands Grant Kerry at Tarleton who ‘fell in love with the place’

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STEPHENVILLE – Tarleton baseball signee Grant Kerry is no stranger to newness.

The utility player who has played baseball on four different continents and will be playing for a third different college this spring since making his way to the United States is as accustomed to being new as you can be.

Kerry, originally born in Hong Kong to British parents, spent the ages of 9 to 16 in Kuwait before moving to a boarding school in Perth, Australia, for his high school education.

Kerry first picked up a baseball at the age of 10 in Kuwait. He played a lot of cricket prior, but never any baseball. His first tryout did not go very well.

“I let five straight ground balls go through my legs to the fence,” Kerry said.

Upon retrieving the balls, he threw them from the fence to the first baseman on a line. The coaches’ interest picked up once they saw the potential they were working with.

That potential developed quickly, and Kerry showed it during his high school days in Australia. In the Land Down Under, there are no baseball programs at school. Kerry played soccer before transitioning to the more physical Australian Rules Football. The baseball Kerry played was for the South Perth Baseball Club, which is separate from school. This club has divisions ranging from children all the way up to the most competitive level, where Kerry played. There, the players are a mix of returning college players, ex-pro players and young prospects.

After graduating high school in 2018, Kerry was playing for South Perth in September when one of his teammates gauged his interest in playing college baseball in America. The teammate had a connection to a school in Missouri that was interested in having Kerry for a visit.

“Playing baseball in college never really crossed my mind,” said Kerry. “People talked about it but I never thought much of it before. Of course I said I was interested, I had nothing to lose.”

As Kerry was set to travel to Missouri, the head coach of the Boise State baseball program, Gary Van Tol, reached out and asked if he would be interested in coming by for a visit. He visited both schools, but once he got to Boise, he knew that was the place for him.

Kerry signed with the Broncos, a baseball program revived after being dormant since 1980. Their first season was slated to be played in 2020, and Kerry arrived in 2019 with a group of other newcomers to spend the 2019 season redshirting and preparing for the season ahead.

Having only intrasquad scrimmages for a full year did not give the Broncos much clarity on how they stacked up to their future competition.

“Heading into our first season and having not played against anyone else, we did not know what to expect,” said Kerry. There were guys that thought we could win a national championship and guys that thought we would be lucky to finish .500.”

Boise State got off to a 9-5 start in 2020, taking the University of Texas to extra innings in a game in Austin and winning series over Northern Colorado and Seattle U. Then, Covid-19 struck and ended the first season in over four decades for Boise State. Players were happy when the NCAA granted all student-athletes an extra year of eligibility because to them that meant they could run it back.

Then, suddenly that summer in early July, the team received an email from university officials saying the program was being cut. Within the hour, the team had a zoom call with university administrators who explained that baseball was being cut due to budget constraints.

“There was so much excitement for the potential of the program,” said Kerry. “It was all taken away from us just like that.”

No matter how difficult the situation is to look back at, Kerry is still appreciative of his time in Boise.

“I wouldn’t be the player I am today if it wasn’t for my years at Boise,” he said. “The coaches there were huge in my development.”

Kerry was ready to hang the cleats up and finish his degree at Boise State, but he reluctantly entered the transfer portal and soon coaches were flooding his email. “To be honest, I didn’t open any of them. It had not sunk in that I was not going to play at Boise and I was still processing.”

Van Tol reached out to Kerry a while later, gauging his interest in playing for Northwest Nazarene University, a Division II school just 30 minutes down the road from Boise. Kerry was not open to the idea. After some time and a few conversations with family, friends and former coaches, Kerry decided to give NNU a visit.

“I always tell people I wish I could go back in time to when Coach Van Tol called me and asked me about NNU,” Kerry said. “Going there ended up being one of the best decisions I’ve made.”

Kerry loved the school from the moment he enrolled. The small student body and welcoming atmosphere played a huge part in that. His play on the diamond did not hurt, either. Kerry’s first season with the Redhawks was a smashing success as he hit .361 with 61 hits, 52 RBI and 11 home runs. NNU made a run to the Division II world series in North Carolina. In his second season he continued to put up impressive numbers, slashing .294/.349/.529 but NNU was knocked out in the regional round by the national runner-up.

Kerry graduated with a bachelor’s in biology in the pre-medical track. He wanted to continue playing, but NNU did not offer a master’s program that was science-based like he preferred. That is what pushed him to the transfer portal for a second time.

Enter Tarleton.

The Texan coaching staff was the first to reach out to Kerry. A lot of schools contacted him, at one point he was having a conversation with a coach every day.

“Tarleton from the start was awesome, they were the easiest phone calls to have,” Kerry said. “When I spoke to Coach (Dallas) Reed, I felt like I was talking to a friend. When I thought about what I valued in my time at NNU and Boise, it was the close relationships I had and that is the vibe that Tarleton was giving off to me.”

Kerry eventually narrowed his options down to two schools. He had yet to see Tarleton, so a visit was set up.

“My visit to Tarleton – I got on campus and fell in love with the place,” Kerry said. ” I knew I wanted to venture somewhere to the south and the whole time on my visit I felt that this is where I wanted to be. It felt right and it felt comfortable. I wanted to put on some cleats and grab a glove and join the guys out on the field.”

The whole Texan coaching staff made Kerry feel at home, and he knew then that he would be a Texan.  “The coaching staff is fantastic,” Kerry said. “I can talk to them about real life situations. Coach Meade wasn’t trying to sell me on the program, he was talking to me and getting to know me as a person. The chance to shock the world this upcoming season, to show them who Tarleton Baseball is, combined with the coaching staff, the group of guys on the team and the town, you can count me in on that.”

Even the people around campus had Kerry excited and feeling welcome. At one point he had an encounter with Tarleton’s president, Dr. James Hurley.

“The president’s vision was great,” he said. “I bumped into him and he said I think you have two options, you can come here and help us win championships or go somewhere else and watch us win championships. That showed a lot to me, how much the president is committed to athletics.”

Kerry is excited to get to campus and get to work. He figures to compete for a spot in the outfield this upcoming season. He will be pursuing a Master of Science focused in Sport Performance.

While not all the newness has been his choice, Kerry has kept a level head about his collegiate career and is excited to be back playing at the highest level of NCAA baseball.

“Baseball is a universal language that has helped me to meet some amazing people and teammates,” said Kerry. “This journey has allowed me to chase my dreams of playing baseball at the highest level which has made being away from home and constantly on the move a little easier.”

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