The Ultimate athlete is a student who trains hard and is committed to excellence, on and off the field. Their work ethic, dedication, determination, and mental toughness is what makes these athletes truly exceptional. Each week the Country Herald will support these incredible student-athletes in our series, The Ultimate.
This week’s Ultimate is Matthew Fortin, a freshman at BBCHS. Matthew plays baseball, runs the 400 meter, the 4×200 meter, and does the long jump in track. When described by his baseball coach and father, Scott Fortin, he said, “I have a unique perspective on his growth as coach and [his] dad. I definitely see his determination on the field, and his ability to work to improve himself off of it, but appreciate his balance in not dwelling on negatives or mistakes.”
“When he’s on the field, he’s a very positive teammate. Usually [he is] the first one to tell someone it’s okay if they make an error or missed a pitch.” Fortin continued. “I think he’s someone who truly enjoys the team aspect of sports because he enjoys being on the field with the guys during practice as well as in games.”
Who are your heroes in life and what do you admire about them?
My heroes are my dad [and mom]. My dad is the one who taught me the basics about baseball and my mom is the one who gets me out of the door every single day. Plus all the encouragement they give me.
When did you first get involved in sports?
I first got involved in sports when I played t-ball for the first time.
Who is your favorite sports hero, and why?
My favorite sports hero is Ben Zobrist. He is humble and generous on and off the field and I put that into work on a daily basis.
What are your future aspirations after high school?
My goal after high school is to go further and play baseball in college.
Do you happen to have a plan in place to achieve this goal?
To achieve this goal, I want to practice specific skills and game situations at least three to four days a week.
Would you happen to know what college you would like to attend after high school?
The college I would like to attend is either Olivet Nazarene University or Illinois State University.
Have you had any serious injuries? If so, how did you deal with these and overcome the obstacles?
I haven’t had any serious injuries except for one mild injury, where I severely bruised my knee while snowboarding when some friends and I went to Four Lakes up in Lisle, Illinois. It made me a bit scared because in a few days I was trying out for the track team. But, with a little bit of ice and help from a knee brace, I pushed through the pain and still made the team.
What is the one thing you always do after a good performance?
Just enjoy the moment and think about how we got there. I think about the coach’s wrap up. Then ask if we can go for something fun to celebrate -like Dairy Queen.
Is it difficult for you to balance sports with school work?
It can be challenging. Most of the time the adrenaline gets in my brain with the knowledge that there is a game or track meet later in the day. One time I had a meet right after school then went immediately after to play a baseball game. By the time I got home, I was exhausted and didn’t really want to do my homework. But, pushing myself to the limit, I stayed up until about midnight working on my homework.
What is the best part about competing for you?
The best part about competing is the adrenaline that runs through your veins and how baseball is a mental sport so you have to use your brain and think about the best decision that can help benefit your team.
Have you ever had any nail-biting incidents that have had a happy ending?
I had a nail-biting experience with a happy ending that happened recently. This past Memorial Day, my part-time travel team went up to Palos Heights and played in the tournament semi-finals. We started off strong with a nice lead of 2-0 in the first inning. But a lead like that can’t always be kept. Palos Thunder came back later in the top of the sixth inning with four runs, after the score had been 3-1 in the 5th inning. Come the seventh inning, it’s our last at bats. I’m the lead-off hitter and it’s a tense moment, because if I got on, then I was the tying run. So once I got on, I steal second -with my teammate making contact for the first out but advanced me to third. Now I’m on third for the next batter with only one out. He makes contact and gets on with a fielder’s choice and me sliding in at home to tie up the game. The second out comes with a close play at the plate on another fielder’s choice. So now there are two outs, 4-4 ball game. We get a single with the runner making it to third. Our shortstop is up to bat now and the first pitch comes in and it’s a rocket to center. At first it looked like it was going be caught and the center fielder made an amazing effort to catch the ball and missed by only a few inches. All we could do was surround Brayden, and by the end of it, I think all of us lost our voices. It was a great walk off win for us.
What is a typical day like in the life of Matthew?
A typical day is waking up early for school then coming home afterwards and finishing up my homework before my games on days that I have one. If I don’t have a game or practice, then I’ll just chill and play video games with some friends.
What would you say the role of a sports parent is?
The role of a sports parent is to provide encouragement towards their son or daughter to do better and strive to be a better person in whatever sport they play, and life.
What one word describes you?
One word that describes me is humble.
What are some words of encouragement you would give a younger athlete?
Always stay humble. Keep doing what you love-don’t let anyone stop you and only you can make yourself a better player on and off the field. Also, focus on school and do well. If you want to do well in sports and get good playing time on your school team, they look at your grades, so make sure to do your best in school.
Know a local athlete that you believe is The Ultimate? Tell us who you would like spotlighted by completing the form here, at gocorn.org/athlete.
Note: Interview maybe edited for length and clarity.