Each Sunday during the 2017-18 school year, the Carson-Newman athletic communications department will shine a spotlight on a current or former Carson-Newman student athlete to tell a tale of life outside of his or her respective sport.
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Ten years have come and gone since Steve Cishek last threw a pitch for Carson-Newman. His final delivery was in the NCAA South Regional, a strikeout of Tampa catcher Chris Robenbaum.
For many Division II hurlers, the final toss of college is the last time he toes the rubber in a competitive game. Cishek has been an exception to the rule tossing 421 2/3 innings in 422 Major League Baseball games over the last eight seasons.
The right-hander has not forgotten where he came from. As a member of the 2007 Eagles, he was a part of a team that won three games in one day to capture a South Atlantic Conference tournament championship. After a decade, he reunited with many of teammates during homecoming as the school honored the group with an alumni game on Oct. 21.
"We had such a tight-knit group when I was coming up," Cishek recalled. "When we were driving to the field, we saw all the places we used to stop and eat and hang out at. We were ragging on each other like we used to. It brings back so many memories. Brett Hontz said it best, 'it's like taking a trip down memory lane'. It really is. A lot of the guys we haven't seen in years. Once we see each other it's like we hung out a week ago. Time has flown by so fast. It means so much to catch up and see everyone's families now and watch them play baseball again."
Sharing his success is second nature to the 31-year-old. As he travels the country during the MLB season, Cishek is bringing his friends to the ball park to get a feel for being on the field inside a big league stadium.
"It's something that I have always dreamed of doing," Cishek said. "Ever since I played wiffle ball in the backyard, we dreamed of playing on these fields – playing in the big leagues. As you get older you don't think it's going to happen. To be able to say it happened and serve others in terms of getting them on the field and letting them enjoy the experience as well, it means the world to me."
Steve Cishek and Langdon Potts in Tampa. Also met up with other Eagle alum Robby Thigpen, Cory Harless. pic.twitter.com/YNvp9l58IG— CN Baseball (@CNBaseball) August 19, 2017
Humility is one of the distinguishing factors for the reliever. Since 2010, Cishek has carried a card in the back pocket of his pants on the mound. It says, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men" from Colossians 3:23. It's a reminder that during a grueling 162-game season, there is a bigger picture.
"Mentally you start getting lazy but if you think about it at the end of the day whenever we have to meet God, He is going to ask us 'what did we do with what I have given you?' I want to say that I gave everything I have for His glory. I pushed myself for His glory because he commanded us in the scriptures."
Passing along his beliefs is now focused on his two daughters, three-year-old Emmie and 11-month-old Avery with his wife Marissa. Cishek believes the duo has made him a better person while giving him a new perspective on the game that he plays.
"Going on the road was never easy," Cishek expressed. "Leaving your wife behind but now when you tie in two little girls, it makes it real tough. We have these two-week long road trips. After a couple days I am dying to get back so I can be with the family again. When you get traded, you have to pack up your stuff and go because I'm a new team's property. That leaves it up to my wife to pack the entire house and our two girls. Last year from Seattle to Tampa, all the weight was on her shoulders. She is a strong woman. That makes it difficult but it ended up working out for us really well in the end."
After being traded twice in the last two years from Miami to St. Louis and from Seattle to Tampa Bay, a move may be in the cards again as Cishek is a free agent this offseason. Pressure and stress may apply for most big leaguers but for the former Eagle a simple glance at the card he keeps in his pocket provides a viewpoint on his journey.
"I try to be a living example of what God asks us to do," Cishek voiced. "He asks us that whatever job you have, to do it to the best of your ability and work hard for His glory and not man's glory. My job is to be an example to others. When people see me pull that card out of my back pocket they always ask what's on that card. It gives me an opportunity to share my faith."
- CN -