By Dennis Garcia
The game of baseball can teach very important lessons. How much a player can learn, adjust, adapt and show patience during his journey can determine just how far a player will go in baseball.
And in life as well.
N.C. State’s DeAngelo Giles, who will play for the Asheboro Copperheads this summer, understands that very well.
While some players have a hard time understanding that baseball is a very difficult game and the higher the level of baseball one participates in the more there is to learn and adjust to, Giles said he has used his faith to help get him through.
The High Point Central graduate said he has learned many valuable lessons while playing the sport he loves, lessons that can be used in every part of his life. Through his faith, he realized that success isn’t determined strictly by what a player does on the field, but how he handles himself and how much he contributes off the field as well.
“All through on the way up and in high school and travel ball, I had a lot more active role,” he said. “I was the go-to guy. I was looked to in those moments. Now it’s different. You hope and you work to get back to that role. The biggest thing is being ready when your name is called. Whether it’s to come off the bench, start the game, pinch-run or pinch-hit. You have to be ready to help your team in whatever way you can. When you take the personal feelings out of it, it makes things easier.”
Having strong faith also helps, he said.
“Faith is definitely a huge part of my life,” Giles said. “Baseball has taught me a lot of things that have brought me closer to my faith. When things get difficult, you can lean on your faith and realize the plan is bigger than just today.”
In an October 2020 article for Sports Spectrum, a website where Sports and Faith Connects, Giles wrote that after games in which he didn’t perform well, he wasn’t a pleasant person to be around. This led to thinking and feeling the worst after games, and feeling as though his hard work had been for nothing, or that he would never be able to reach his goals of competing at the highest level.
“As I have grown in my walk with Christ,” he wrote in the article, “I have been able to better understand and separate my identity (specifically in Christ) from the things I do. Regardless of the results on the field, I know that I can have a larger impact on my teammates, family and friends by the way I handle both success and adversity. If I have a bad game, do I take that with me after the game and treat the people I love the most poorly? Or do I learn from what happened, move on, and reflect something much bigger?”
Giles has chosen the latter and has become a better player and person because of it.
“You are playing with some of the best of the best,” said Giles, a 6-foot-0, 195-pound infielder. “No one wants to wait. You want to come in and have an impact immediately. You have to continue to work hard, and if things go in the right direction, eventually I can be one of those guys. You have to have faith to lean back on when the game is over and you left the field.”
Baseball was never a problem for Giles growing up as he was a high-end prospect with the Golden Spikes program at the North Carolina Baseball Academy and while at HPC, where he was a four-time all-league performer.
He was also a member of the gold medal-winning State Games team in 2018.
The adjustments came immediately when he arrived at N.C. State the summer after his high school graduation.
“My freshman year, it took a lot of adjustment,” Giles said. “My freshman year, they get you ready for the pitching you will see by using a pitching machine, and for a month, it was like a blur. I never saw pitching that fast. You learn to slow the game down. I’m still adjusting and understanding. If you are coming off the bench, you’re still facing the best of the best.”
In his Covid-19 shortened freshman season, Giles made three appearances off the bench for the Wolfpack. He recorded his first career hit on March 4 against Coastal Carolina, a RBI single.
He then spent a portion of last summer with the Hi-Toms of the CPL, where he hit .240 with two home runs, eight runs scored and nine RBIs in 12 games.
“Once again, adding a local product to the team is exciting for the fans and the organization,” Asheboro coach and General Manager Keith Ritsche said. “DeAngelo had some playing time in the CPL last season for the Hi-Toms, which is obviously beneficial and he already has made a few appearances for the Wolfpack in this early 2021 season. It’s always nice for these kids to have their families and friends come out and watch their local boys play. We know he will give us and the fans plenty to cheer for this summer.”
Giles said he is looking forward to putting on a Copperheads uniform.
“More time and experience and repetition can only help you,” Giles said. “Last year taught me how competitive it was in the CPL. I am competitive regardless. I am really looking forward to it. We have some talented guys who are coming to play for Asheboro.”
At N.C. State this season, Giles has recorded four at-bats early on. He said he will continue to work.
“Baseball is a game of failure and it teaches you,” Giles said. “You have to be humble or the game will humble you. It shows you that you have to have faith. You can practice, then go in the cage for an hour, get all your stretching in, do extra work and you still go 0-for-4. Then the next game you can barely hit the ball and you get three hits. You have to keep a level head. So much of this is mental.”
Using his faith, Giles has accepted his role with N.C. State while continuing to work as hard as necessary to once again become a “go-to” player with the Wolfpack.
A hard work ethic and strong faith are usually a very successful combination.