Committed — A Baseball Youth Exclusive
By Nathan Clinkenbeard
Photos by Ric Tapia
Jordan Andrade bleeds purple and gold.
The Redlands, California native fell in love with the University of Washington at a young age thanks to his family, and he can’t wait to play baseball for the Huskies after committing to the program on January 12. The only problem is he has to wait — till 2020.
See, Jordan isn’t a junior or senior in high school preparing to make the jump to college. He’s just a 13-year-old 7th grader preparing to make the jump to high school!
He was the only 7th grader invited to Washington’s Winter Prospect Camp on January 10-11, and afterward he received the opportunity (and surprise) of a lifetime – a baseball scholarship offer to be a Husky.
“I was beyond grateful, blessed, honored and most of all was in shock,” Andrade said. “But when I had a second to realize what just happened, I wanted to break down because all my hard work paid off at such an early age.”
Many 7th graders don’t have a clue where they want to go to college, but that’s not the case with Jordan. He knows exactly where he wants to be and that’s in Seattle, Washington. After receiving the scholarship offer, he gave a verbal commitment to be a part of the Husky Class of 2020.
Jordan started playing tee ball at just 3 years old, but he was building his love for the game earlier than that in his grandparents’ tiny living room. His parents said he would run the wrong way around home plate so they gave him a hoop and a basketball hoping he would be a better basketball player. He gained an interest in basketball, but baseball always held that special place in his heart.
“I think just growing up in a sports family and going to the Dodgers and Angels stadiums watching the games got me interested in the game,” Andrade said. “One thing that grabbed my attention was in kindergarten my dad and grandfather started an annual tradition where every year we would pick an MLB ballpark to visit, catch a game and take a tour. Walking on the field and seeing the lockers really got me interested in the game even more.”
Jordan started playing travel ball when he was 6 by playing up in 8U. He continued to play up in age and really enjoyed competing against the older players. For the past two years, Jordan has been with former big leaguer Adam Kennedy and his Adam Kennedy Baseball organization.
Like Kennedy was during his 14-year MLB career, Jordan is a middle infielder. He plays shortstop, second base as well as center field. His speed and Hawaiian heritage has earned him the nickname Flyin’ Hawaiian after Red Sox outfielder Shane Victorino.
Jordan knows he’s lucky to have someone like Kennedy as his coach and mentor, a guy who’s excelled at every level of the game.
“Working with Coach Adam is amazing due to the fact he played in the pros and knows the grind that it takes to get there,” Andrade said. “Adam has helped me grow as a player in making me more aggressive, staying positive and understanding baseball is a game of failure and how to stay focused during the good and the bad.”
The night before Washington’s camp Jordan couldn’t wait any longer. He had his grandfather and parents drive him to the baseball field so he could see it. The next day he would be walking on the field with his bat bag ready to showcase his skills.
As the only 7th grader there that meant he was going up against kids older, bigger and with plenty more facial hair. He wasn’t fazed. Jordan was one of the camp’s highlights, and at the end, he received an award as one of the top four players.
The next thing he knew he was talking with the Washington coaches about wearing the purple and gold after high school.
While his family and friends are excited for him and most everyone has offered Jordan congratulations, there are some who believe schools shouldn’t be offering scholarships to 7th graders. The haters don’t faze Jordan, either.
Said Andrade: “I know everyone will have their own opinion but I would politely say, ‘Thank you for sharing your opinion, but I am very happy and blessed.’”
After middle school, Jordan will attend Yucaipa High School before moving on to Washington. Besides the physical part of the game, he wants to continue strengthening the mental aspect to be that all-around player.
Jordan has always been committed to becoming a better baseball player, but after saying yes to the Huskies that word committed has taken on new meaning.