There are so many reasons for Rob Lagasse to enjoy the prospects at Southern New Hampshire University.
A top-notch construction management major, a baseball program that consistently ranks nationally, sweet campus, new workout facility.
“Can you believe it? For the first time, I’m going to be practicing on (an artificial) turf field,” said the 2016 Newburyport High graduate. “They plow it. I’m going to be able to take fly balls right when we get back to school in January. That’s awesome, whatever it takes.”
Fly balls in January. In Hooksett, N.H. You have to wonder if Scott Loiseau knows about this driven baseball-seeking package in Lagasse.
An all-league outfielder for the Clippers, it’s taken some time for Lagasse to find his stride after graduation.
A superb work ethic, one he said that is ingrained thanks to his grandfather, has always been there — at least outside the classroom.
Be it as a four-year varsity player for Paul Yameen in hockey or for the Clipper baseball team, Lagasse is one who constantly emptied the tank for the cause.
Even these days, Lagasse pours his heart into a pair of jobs, one with his uncle’s contracting company and the other his own, a small landscaping operation, he’s nurtured over the years.
“I’ve always been handy and need the money,” says Lagasse. “Hard working is a good trait to have.”
It’s cost him a little time on the diamond. While still listed on the roster for coach Joe Dardeno’s North Reading A’s of the North Shore League, he’s limited as a part-timer.
Work is the priority right now and he’s immersed in it, per usual.
But school was the exception to the rule.
“I was the kind of kid who went to school every day, but never studied, never did any homework,” he said.
Lagasse, like many others, found that direction right down the road at Northern Essex Community College, his home away from home the last three years.
Admittedly, he had an advantage, baseball.
“Baseball has made me the person I am today,” said Lagasse. “It’s such a huge part of my life. Character-wise, it teaches you so much. It disciplines you, challenges you to overcome obstacles.”
Northern Essex baseball is one of the region’s best-kept secrets. While community colleges around the region have seen their programs degrade and disintegrate, the Knights have pushed themselves into a national powerhouse, churning out prospects by the handful year after year.
They do it with a home field that basically doesn’t drain until June, patching together home games whenever they can find them.
“I have had some tough years, but (Northern Essex Coach) Jeff Mejia has helped me grow so much as a person,” said Lagasse. “Those guys love the game, and they work so hard at it. Northern Essex is the best thing I’ve ever done.”
The feeling is quite mutual.
“Rob has been an absolute pleasure to have in our program. His dedication to his studies and athletics was an inspiration to his teammates as well as the whole athletic department,” said Mejia.
“I am so happy for Rob moving on to SNHU where he will be a major contributor to their program.”
At SNHU, Lagasse expects to step in right away. There are outfield spots open and the redshirt junior is laser-focussed on stepping in right away.
He’ll take the same attitude with him that he always brought to the diamond, or for that matter the job site.
“I’m a grunt, who plays to win by any means necessary,” said Lagasse. “I’m not Mike Trout, but I’m going to work harder than anyone for the team. I want to do my thing. Get on base and just try to wreak havoc.”
He will also have the opportunity to be teammates once again with his best friend and former Clipper two-sport running mate, Scott Webster, who is still trying to put the pieces back together in his career after a shoulder issue his freshman year at SNHU.
Lagasse can’t wait.
“I’m just thrilled to play there,” he said. “It’s a dream.”
One piece of advice Lagasse, when practice commences in the chill of late January in New Hampshire?
When you’re tracking those flies, be sure to watch out for snowballs.