During the summer of 2014, Trevor Kieboom was given the opportunity to have a second — well, third — chance at playing the sport that he loves, at the University of Georgia.
After four surgeries and two previous college teams, the opportunity to play at an SEC school was just what Kieboom needed in order to put his baseball career back on track. Kieboom, now a redshirt junior, is hitting .274 — the third-highest batting average for the Bulldogs — and will play in the SEC Tournament in Hoover, Ala., next week.
And this, after he came to Georgia without expectations of playing.
“I came to UGA seeking to be a student assistant,” Kieboom said, “and Coach Scott Stricklin offered me an opportunity to walk on in the fall.”
When Kieboom was 5, his parents, Lynnette and Alswinn Kieboom, placed him on a Little League team in Sandy Plains, Ga.
“Before he even could be on an official team, he was his big brother’s bat boy on the teams he played on,” said Kieboom’s mom.
Spencer Kieboom, three years older than Trevor, went on to become a standout catcher at Clemson and was drafted in the fifth round by the Washington Nationals in 2012. He currently plays for the Double-A Harrisburg Senators.
After trying other sports during his middle school years, Trevor Kieboom continued down his baseball path and never looked back. After graduating from Walton (Ga.) High School in 2011, Kieboom continued his baseball career at Clemson University, following in his brother’s footsteps.
The Clemson chapter of Kieboom’s life didn’t last as long as he planned, derailed by two surgeries for a torn labrum in his right shoulder.
“I enjoyed my time at Clemson, I made a lot of good friends, but as far as the baseball or anything is concerned, that’s really a chapter that is closed,” Kieboom said.
But he didn’t let that be the end of his baseball career.
Kieboom was offered a scholarship to play at Chattahoochee Valley Community College in Phenix City, Ala., under coach Adam Thomas.
“Picking up Trevor was a no-brainer for me. He is a stud and just one heck of a player. It was really more about him picking us than us picking him,” Thomas said.
Going from a Division I school to junior college isn’t easy for anyone, but Kieboom says that it taught him a lot.
“I think JUCO kind of makes you either fall in love with the game all over again, or it makes you hate the game, so it kind of made me realize my love for the game,” Kieboom said.
After playing at Chattahoochee Valley for a year — where Kieboom hit .343 with 11 doubles, two home runs, and 50 RBIs in 58 games as the Pirates advanced for the first time to the Junior College World Series — Kieboom thought that his baseball career was officially over.
Kieboom planned on returning to Clemson as a student, but his older brother convinced him to look into playing baseball at UGA. ad Kieboom contacted the Bulldogs, initially thinking he might be a student assistant for the rest of his college career; but the UGA coaches offered Kieboom a spot on the team.
During the 2015 season, Kieboom’s first at UGA, he hit .241 with four doubles, one triple, one home run and 11 RBIs, starting 31 games at third base. Kieboom also had two more surgeries during the 2015 season: one on his wrist after an at-bat injury against Florida State University and the other on his labrum in his left shoulder after an injury during a game against South Carolina.
Kieboom says all of the great people he has met since attending UGA have changed his life; one of those people being his best friend, teammate and roommate Nick King.
“He (Kieboom) is always there for you when you need a laugh, or if you need to be serious and need someone to talk to,” King said.
Kieboom graduated this month from the Terry College of Business at UGA with a business management degree. Kieboom is excited to see all that the future holds for him, which could include being taken in the MLB Draft next month. If he isn’t drafted, he said he would like to work for a sports agency.
“I’m thankful for a second chance to play the game I love and I owe that thanks to the University of Georgia, my family and baseball program here,”Kieboom said.
This story was written by Kendall Meissner of The Grady Sports Bureau, which is part of the sports media program at the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.
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