A 6-foot-4 junior quarterback takes the snap for Xaverian Brothers High School, drops back and reads the defense. Immediately he spots pressure on his left. Darting away from traffic, he continues to scan down the field, looking for an open man. A head fake to a receiver on a deep route draws the secondary away, and the QB pivots and lobs a short pass to the running back for a solid gain.
Two years and a 40-minute drive up the road, another 6-foot-4 junior quarterback awaits a snap under the lights of Reading Memorial High School. Hike. The running back sprints forward to receive an easy handoff, but the ball slips out on the transfer. It isn’t long before the ball finds the quarterback’s arms once again, who charges forwards. One shed tackle, make it two.
Fast forward another three and a half years, and senior Jake Farrell and redshirt freshman Corey DiLoreto aren’t putting on pads and a helmet. They’re buttoning up their jerseys and grabbing a glove to represent Northeastern baseball.
After each starring in a trio of sports in high school, Farrell and DiLoreto chose the smell of fresh dirt, the snap of the glove, the crack of the bat.
For DiLoreto, the decision was made years before it had to be.
“It all started with my family, my grandfather was a huge baseball fan. He always coached my dad, and then my dad always coached me growing up,” DiLoreto said. “I love all the sports I played throughout high school, but I’ve always had a higher passion for baseball.”
His parents had him playing t-ball a few years after he could walk, and by the third grade, DiLoreto added football and basketball to his resume. By the time he received his high school diploma, DiLoreto collected five Middlesex League All-Star selections between those three sports.
Despite the possible allure of other options, choosing to pursue baseball in college over football or basketball was a no-brainer for him.
“I knew baseball was for me; I just love everything about it,” DiLoreto said. “I love the hot summer days grinding out in summer ball, growing up playing with my friends in the town league. Playing the other sports was fun, but baseball is my calling.”
Farrell started his athletic career equally early, picking up baseball and hockey by age five, and football a few years later. He also picked up Catholic Conference All-Star selections in all three sports he played, and as quarterback he led Xaverian Brothers to a state championship. At a school that features former NFL QBs Tim and Matt Hasselback as alumni, Jake Farrell is the all-time leader for wins as a quarterback.
Unlike DiLoreto’s immediate attachment, however, baseball was a passion that grew fonder the more he played.
“I was playing baseball for the longest period of time out of the year, March until August,” Farrell explained. “The amount of time I spent doing it, it grew on me more and more.”
An unfortunately-timed labrum injury junior year left Farrell unable to throw footballs in front of scouts, but it only helped to pave the path for his diamond opportunity.
“My junior year of high school I was getting recruited [for football] a little bit,” said Farrell. “It was difficult for me because I couldn’t throw at the time because I was recovering from labrum surgery. By the time it was my senior year, I got the opportunity to play baseball in college, and I jumped on it. It all fell into place and I decided I wanted to play baseball for the next four years.”
Both Farrell and DiLoreto credit baseball head coach Mike Glavine as a main sticking point for their decision to play ball for the Huskies. A former multi-sport athlete in high school himself, Glavine actively seeks out recruits of a similar ilk.
One reason? Multi-sport stars are no stranger to competition, growing up in an environment where challenge looms in every season’s forecast. The day one team’s hopes end is the day another’s begins.
“Every season you’re competing, and I think in order to be a good athlete, you need that compete factor in you and the willpower to get better,” DiLoreto said. “Playing three sports always pushes you. You’re constantly competing, not just in practices, but in meaningful games. Going from football to basketball to baseball, you’re always dealing with adversity, which helps you grow as an individual – as a player and as a person.”
“There’s a special kind of toughness there,” Glavine agreed. “These kids are mentally tough because they’re constantly playing a sport in a high-profile position.”
“I can spin it any way,” he continued. “If the kid’s a wrestler, there’s some toughness and strength. If he’s a basketball player, there’s probably quickness and stamina. Football, there’s grit. Hockey, you get hit around. Whatever sport it is, there’s a benefit, and it shows up on the baseball field.”
From a physical standpoint, the upside to multi-sport athletes is rather obvious: playing three different sports at an elite level takes a special type of athlete. But at the same time, it’s harder for these teenagers to keep up when the time most athletes use to improve their game is spent on another game entirely.
“It was always difficult to find the time to workout and get bigger and stronger in high school because I never really had an offseason,” Farrell said. “In high school I would just pick it up after the other one ended, so I was relying on my raw ability and what was left over from the previous season to get me through it.”
Which leads to the real clincher that gets Glavine so excited about the prospect of a multi-talented athlete joining the Husky ranks: the potential of that athlete if all of his or her efforts were directed at a singular sport.
“For me, multi-sport athletes have a higher ceiling. It’s like the best is still yet to come for those guys because they haven’t focused on one sport,” Glavine said. “The kids that are multi-sport athletes are willing to work; they haven’t burnt out on their sport. You’re getting a kid that’s athletic, that’s energetic, that’s ready to learn, and when they finally specialize on one sport, they have the ability to takeoff.”
The possibility of a fountain of untapped potential in multi-sport athletes wasn’t lost on other recruiters, either.
“The fact that I was playing three sports actually helped me,” Farrell said. “Coaches like to see that you can play different sports and that you can be athletic. I think the fact that I played two other sports in high school got them to see another side of me where I’m not just a baseball player – I’m an athlete. Once I get to school, I can harness that ability on just baseball.”
And that was Glavine’s exact plan for his multi-sport recruits – unleash the player’s full athleticism magnified solely on baseball. He admitted that fall semester when freshmen first arrive on Huntington Avenue can be a grueling transition for those not accustomed to baseball workouts.
“Those guys aren’t used to fall practices, and ours are tough,” Glavine said. “There’s a lot of running and your body’s aching. I’ll joke with the football guys, saying, ‘Did you ever think baseball practice would be tougher than football?’ That transition for them physically and mentally is really tough for their first three months on campus. They’re not used to playing this much baseball yet.”
But beneath the heaving breathing and the profuse sweating is that golden new opportunity that Glavine can’t wait to provide his athletes: the chance to finally take a beat and reflect on what they need to do to become better baseball players.
“Once I got here, all I was doing was baseball, so I got to sit down and really focus on my swing and focus on my arm strength and defensive ability,” Farrell remembered. “The amount of time I could dedicate to baseball was a huge difference for me and really helped me progress these last three years.”
DiLoreto had an even more extreme transition to college ball than most freshmen. Not only was he shedding his football and basketball commitments, but as a redshirt, he was barred from the competitive play that surrounded him growing up. Nonetheless, he was able to turn the newfound downtime into growth.
“It was really important for me because I learned a lot about the game,” DiLoreto said. “Not being able to focus all my time on baseball growing up, it gave me a lot of room to grow. It was a huge learning experience for me getting to soak it all up. I’ve been playing my whole life and I was really surprised at how many things I still had to learn and how many different ways I could improve.”
It was the same passion that drove DiLoreto and Farrell to choose the sport in the first place that kept them taking endless hacks in the cage or fielding grounders in the dirt. It’s a game centered around the expectation of failure, and any advantage to tip the scale against the opponent is only earned through hours of repetition.
“Baseball is a more rewarding sport. It’s a longer season and it’s more of a grind,” DiLoreto said. “It takes a certain kind of individual to be willing to play the amount of games that we play. I embrace it, and I know our whole team embraces it, too.”
Looking back on their decision, it appears the freshman and senior duo have no regrets.
“In the end, everything happens for a reason. The lessons I’ve learned from playing multiple sports – the strategy from the football field, or the toughness from hockey – they transfer over to baseball,” Farrell said. “It’s the mentality that ties them together. The relationships and friendships I’ve made with my teammates over the years in each of those sports, I wouldn’t trade them for the world. Those memories will last me a lifetime, and I’m really grateful for those experiences.”
“I was playing hockey and baseball since I was four or five. For football, I took years off, was on-again, off-again, until high school when I picked it back up again.”
“I wouldn’t trade them for the world. It’s just so much fun to do different things. Hockey and football, they give you such different outlooks on things and are so different from baseball. But they all link back to the same life lessons. Each sport gives you something you can take into the next sport.”
“Not too much off the field. It was always difficult to find the time to workout and get bigger and stronger in high school because I never really had an offseason. Once I got to college, it was really just focusing on baseball. I never really got to focus on one sport. In high school I would just pick it up after the other one ended, so I was relying on my raw ability and what was left over from the previous season to get me through it. Once I got here, all I was doing was baseball, so I got to sit down and really focus on my swing and focus on my arm strength and defensive ability. The amount of time I could dedicate to baseball was a huge difference for me and really helped me progress these last three years.”
“I had thought about it. Everyone always says “you don’t have to specialize in one sport” but I know
“I never really had any interest for hockey; I really just loved to play it for fun. I had a little interest for football, but didn’t get any official scholarship offers. My junior year of high school I was getting recruited a little bit. It was difficult for me because I couldn’t throw at the time because I was recovering from labrum surgery. By the time it was my senior year, I got the opportunity to play baseball in college, and I jumped on it. It all fell into place and I decided I wanted to play baseball for the next four years.”
“The co-op program was big for me – being confident I can get a job after baseball. And then being close to home. I grew up around Boston and I had a couple friends at the school. Some of my old travel team buddies, Ryan Solomon and Kyle Murphy had already committed to Northeastern. I really liked what Coach Glavine laid out for me and his vision for me and the program.”
“I’m in no way as talented as Kyler Murray. But they’re two completely different sports. Baseball, it’s still a team game, but it’s more individualized than football. You have one hitter at a time, one pitcher on the mound, and everyone on the team has to rely on that one single guy to do his job in that moment. In football, it’s everybody working together at the exact same time. He must have had a tough decision on his hands because I absolutely loved to play football.”
“For me personally, I would say to stick with as many sports for as long as possible and do whatever makes you happy. In the end, everything happens for a reason. The lessons I’ve learned from playing multiple sports – the strategy from the football field, or the toughness from hockey – they transfer over to baseball. It’s the mentality that ties them together. The relationships and friendships I’ve made with my teammates over the years in each of those sports, I wouldn’t trade them for the world. Those memories will last me a lifetime, and I’m really grateful for those experiences.”
“Playing baseball at Northeastern has been unbelievable; I’ve had a blast. Obviously I miss those sports too. I’ll never forget playing some of those games under the lights with my teammates. I’m really happy I stuck with it.”
“If that works out for me, I would love to play baseball at the next level. If it works out, it works out. If it doesn’t, we’ll take it from there.”
“I played tee-ball when I was really young, and then I picked up basketball and football when I was in third grade.”
“The team aspect. No one player in baseball can win you a game. It takes all nine guys in the lineup and the guys in the pitching staff to grind and get the victory. I love that there’s also no time limit in baseball. No matter how much you’re up or down, the game’s still on. It gives you that sense, even when you’re up, to keep playing hard because you know that the other team can come back.”
“I think college coaches like players that are athletes first.”
“I liked that a lot of the guys on the team are from my area [in Massachusetts]. I know they’ve had a similar upbringing that I did, and I knew what type of player was going to be here. The player that might not be the most polished at the beginning, because playing in the northeast, you can’t really play baseball in the winter. So I knew I’d be joining a bunch of grinders, a bunch of guys that knew how to win and cared about the team more than their individual self.”
“Baseball is more rewarding. It’s a longer season and it’s more of a grind. It takes a certain kind of individual to be willing to play the amount of games that we play. It takes a special person, it’s not made for a lot of people. I embrace it, and I know our whole team embraces it, too.”
“I would say play as many sports for as long as possible. I know a lot of kids these days, there’s the push towards specialization to one sport because parents want their kids to be as best they can at something. But these college coaches now, they can judge talent, and they want guys that can project to be the best. But it’s from multiple sports that you build up that compete factor, and it’s intangible. It’s that sixth tool we always talk about on our team – that will to win. If you have a kid who knows what it takes to win, that’s just another tool in his belt for him to use and get to the next level.”
“For me, multi-sport athletes have a higher ceiling. It’s like the best is still yet to come for those guys because they haven’t focused on one sport, and when you get to college it’s intense. There’s a lot of practice and conditioning involved, 20 hours a week. There’s strength work, there’s speed work, and then obviously on the baseball field. The kids that are multi-sport athletes are willing to work, they haven’t burnt out on their sport. You’re getting a kid that’s athletic, that’s energetic, that’s ready to learn, and when they finally specialize on one sport, they have the ability to takeoff.”
“You can see that some kids just a move a different kind of way. You know their background, so I knew Corey and Jake were a quarterbacks, and that Corey played basketball and Jake played hockey. Your mind is already thinking, okay this kid plays these other sports, let’s see how he moves on a baseball field. You can see that they run a certain way, their lateral quickness is a certain way, they might throw a baseball a little bit different from throwing footballs. Another aspect that I think is huge is there’s a special kind of toughness there. These kids are mentally tough because they’re constantly playing a sport in a high-profile position. There’s a toughness about them, mentally and physically.”
“Our roster is littered with guys that were multi-sport athletes. Costello was a quarterback, Geaslen was a quarterback, I think we have five former quarterbacks on our roster. Ian Fair was a soccer player, and he’s 6-foot-3. You can see his footwork is so good and he moves so well, and I really believe soccer played a big part in that. I don’t think there’s any particular sport or position, I can spin it any way. If the kid’s a wrestler, there’s some toughness and strength. If he’s a basketball player, there’s probably quickness and stamina. Football, there’s grit. Hockey, you get hit around. Whatever sport it is, there’s a benefit, and it shows up on the baseball field.”
“Loved the 6-foot-4 wiry frame, and he moved surprisingly well. He was a center fielder when I saw him play, and you look at the body and think this kid can easily put on 15, 20 pounds of muscle. I liked how his swing worked, and if he could play center he could play left, right, first, wherever we wanted to move him. Then you get to meet him and his family, and it all came together.”
“Pretty similar because Corey is a big dude too. I just looked at him and thought, what’s this kid going to look like when he’s 20 years old and has been in the weight room and focused on baseball? I thought he could play the corner positions and move well for his size. Tons of power in his bat; he launches the ball in batting practice as far as any guy on the team. These aren’t just big kids who can’t run, they can do a lot on the field and you can see that right away.”
“I think they were set on baseball. I do ask the question, ‘are you ready to specialize and commit yourself to baseball?’ Most kids are ready to go, and if not we let the recruiting process go on a little longer, but both Corey and Jake were ready to focus on baseball.”
“A question I get asked a lot from multi-sport recruits when they commit is, ‘Coach, do you want me to stop playing football or hockey?’ Absolutely not. I always want them to finish their high school career strong, keep playing that other sport with your teammates and try to win a championship. They’ll be at Northeastern soon enough and they’ll be ready then to focus on one sport and maximize their talents.”
“It’s funny, the fall is usually the toughest transition period. Those guys aren’t used to fall practices, and ours are tough. There’s a lot of running and your body’s aching, and I’ll joke with the football guys, saying, ‘Did you ever think baseball practice would be tougher than football?’ That transition for them physically and mentally is really tough for their first three months on campus. They’re not used to playing this much baseball yet.”
“To me, there’s longevity in playing baseball […] I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s playing baseball again by the end of his career.”
“I think you keep playing. I think it’s better for your body and reduces risk of injury. I can’t say that factually but I feel like when you’re playing different sports you’re using different muscles, not overusing one thing. It allows you to develop different skill sets that translate to the baseball field. Personally I think the way to go is play multiple sports and when it comes time to specialize, you go ahead and do that.”