by John Unrein
Grain Valley High School Senior Max Chapman recently decided to continue his career as a student athlete with the Wichita State Shockers. The Sunflower State and perennial powerhouse NCAA Division One baseball program has some of the best facilities in the nation.
The Eagle southpaw pitcher is planning to major in education in the fall of 2020 at Wichita State due to his love for helping kids. Chapman credits an abundance of teachers who have influenced him, and he would like to be someone that students eventually look up to as well.
Eagles Head Baseball Coach Brian Driskell was quick to offer praise of both Chapman brothers he has coached as skipper of the Eagles. “I’ve had the pleasure of coaching both Chapman brothers (Max as well as his brother Mitch who graduated with the Class of 2017). Their character and work ethic are of the highest level. Anytime I needed help, they were the first to respond. You won’t find anyone who has anything but positive things to say about them both. That says a lot about the way they were raised.”
“Max has an ability to work hard and be funny with his teammates. He is usually at the center of hard work and having fun. He will certainly be missed a year from now,” Driskell said.
Chapman drew the attention of local college coaches who watched him pitch and play for the Eagles this spring. It would not be uncommon to see a coach with a radar gun behind the fence at home plate when Chapman was pitching, or timing Max with his speed from the batter’s box to first base when up to bat. The velocity Chapman possesses with his fastball and where he can place it in the strike zone consistently were on display.
Both Driskell and Chapman have appreciated the moment. However, they have not lost sight of the upcoming season. Chapman has established a goal he would like to see come to fruition. “An area I’d like to improve in is being able to throw all three of my pitches for a strike 80% of the time. I’ve had successful outings this past year. I need to take my game to another level,” Chapman said.
Driskell’s enthusiasm was apparent when asked about Chapman’s growth and what it meant to have a student athlete from the team recruited to a program the stature of Wichita State. “He has grown a lot. Most of that growth has just naturally occurred from his maturing as a baseball player and as he has gotten older. We recognized as a coaching staff his abilities the first time we saw him a few years ago. The tools were there, and he has definitely put in the work to develop those tools. It’s been fun to watch and be a part of.”
“Honestly, I’m excited for any of our guys that get an opportunity to play after high school. What it means to me is that we were fortunate enough as a program to have Max be an Eagle while he got to realize a dream of reaching his goal of playing college baseball,” Driskell said.
Having the ability to graciously reflect on those who have been of support is a humbling attribute for a teenager to possess. Chapman was quick to offer praise for those who have helped him get to this point along with what it means to him to be a student athlete at Grain Valley High School. “There’s been so many people who have helped me get where I am today. I can’t credit just one person but to name a few: My parents, Blair Johnson my pitching coach, Coach Driskell, and my teammates and friends who believed in me.”
“Being a student athlete at Grain Valley can be challenging. Our staff here is always trying to push us (academically) to our full potential and get the most out of all of us. It’s also nice because they understand the workload we take on during our season. You really can’t complain about our staff as they’re some of the best,” Chapman said.
The Eagles baseball program will begin year two of competing in the Suburban Conference in 2020. The team returns a roster abundant with talent after only losing Christian Lynn and Jesse Scholtz last season to graduation.
Max Chapman has decided to continue his career as a student athlete at Wichita State University.
Photo credit: John Overstreet