By Luke Eggleston/ SUN staff writer
SUN photo(s) University of Richmond SID office
Former CBA Standout Making an Impression at Richmond
There was a time when the Central New York region wasn’t exactly famous for its NCAA Division 1 athletes. While the region still awaits recognition as a recruiting hotbed, current signs point toward a shift in fortunes for local athletes.
It all changed two years ago when Christian Brothers Academy football and basketball star Greg Paulus committed to Duke University and Onondaga Central School football star Mike Hart committed to the University of Michigan. The prospects of a Central New York athlete earning a baseball scholarship are less likely than football or basketball or lacrosse. Last year, however, CBA shortstop Vic Croglio was offered a chance to compete at the Division 1 level. This spring, as a freshman, Croglio took to the diamond for the University of Richmond Spiders.
Citing Paulus and Hart, CBA baseball coach Tom Dotterer acknowledged that exposure was the key for Croglio and other athletes wishing to play at the Division 1 level as did the player’s father, Vic Croglio, Sr.
Croglio was the Brothers’ starting shortstop for three years, although he was also on the varsity roster his freshman year. During his career, CBA went 46-5 playing in a variety of leagues. Dotterer believes Croglio still has not exhausted his potential. “There’s no area of play in Vic’s game that shows it’s at an arrested stage,” the coach said. The coach added that Croglio has a complete game, saying that there isn’t one area of weakness.
“He’s got all the skills and he’s got all the tools,” Dotterer said. “He’s got power, fluidity, he runs the bases and he’s team oriented.” “Exposure was the biggest obstacle,” Croglio said. During the summer following his junior year, Croglio maximized his opportunities for getting himself in front of college coaches, attending workouts and showcases at Le Moyne College; Ft. Meyers, Fla.; the University of Notre Dame and Empire State Games.
The Notre Dame showcase proved the watershed moment. “That’s when we started getting flooded with phone calls and brochures,” Croglio said. Croglio investigated offers from Villanova, Delaware, the University of Indiana, Cincinnati University, Winthrop and South Carolina before finally settling on Richmond. Although the volume of interest increased after the Notre Dame showcase, Richmond coach Ron Atkins noted that the Spiders’ coaching staff first became interested in Croglio when assistant coach Adam Taylor observed him at Le Moyne.
The problem athletes in Central New York face is the lack of cooperative weather. In contrast to such recruiting hotbeds as South Florida or the Tidewater area in Virginia, Central New York weather prohibits athletes from getting out on the field year. Lack of time on the field means inadequate practice and a lack of competition. With the emergence of several indoor centers, the prospects for local athletes are improving immensely.
Such indoor centers were critical for Croglio’s offseason regimen. During his senior year, Croglio committed himself to baseball fulltime, going to Sports Center 481 six days a week and lifting weights with teammates almost every night. As of last week, Croglio’s average at Richmond was hovering right around .180 but his highlights include going 3-4 in a game against Fordham and a grand slam that carried the Spiders to a 10-9 come-from-behind win over Delaware. The coaching staff has been moving him around but he was primarily batting seventh or eighth in the lineup.
“At every level you expect new challenges,” Dotterer said. “To play at the Division 1 level is a tremendous achievement and it augurs well for his future.” Richmond coach Ron Atkins believes Croglio’s best days at the plate are ahead of him. “I talked to him the other day and told him that he’s got to make some adjustments,” the coach said. “He’s swinging better now and I expect him to be a .300 hitter.”
Over the course of his varsity career at CBA, Croglio’s batting improved immensely. Playing part-time as a freshman, he went 8-for-44. As a sophomore, he batted .269 and as a junior, he hit .345. During his senior year, he batted .418 with 12 doubles, two triples, four home runs and 25 RBIs. At the close of both his junior and senior years, he was an all-league and All-CNY selection. Croglio’s value to the Spiders is registered in his defensive prowess. One observer said that he’s among the best defensive shortstops he has ever seen.
“He’s got good hands, quick feet and a good arm,” Atkins said. “He moves well to his left although he could move better to his right.” The coach acknowledged that it is unusual for a freshman to play shortstop as well as Croglio.