Portugal embraces grind on and off the field
Jeff Ott, Sports Editor
March 13, 2012
Filed under Sports
Catching is arguably one of the most physically and mentally demanding positions in not only baseball, but in all sports. Mix that with the life of a full time Mesa College student and then throw in a job and see if an average student could handle it. Mesa College Student Jake Portugal knows best.
Baseball has been his life. Since the age of three when he went to his first game, to when he crouches behind home plate here at Mesa. That’s the recipe for a long and prosperous baseball career.
But when he’s not swinging for the fences or tossing the ball to third base after a well timed pitch, he does plenty more than most of us could handle. His first class is at 8 a.m. and then after his classes he’s got practice or a game until 4 or 5 in the evening. After that its homework or a nap, and then work at midnight and isn’t home until after 3 a.m. “I don’t get to sleep much,” Sophomore Jake Portugal said. “It was instilled in me at a young age to be able to still be happy through struggles.”
Jake, who played baseball at Mira Mesa High, is in a family of sports. His father has coached baseball at both the high school and amateur level; and his mom played softball throughout her life.
“If I weren’t playing baseball, I’d probably be doing student government. I was in ASB (Associated Student Body) all throughout high school,” Portugal said. “It really made me learn to enjoy school and learning…not just getting good grades.”
Although if he wasn’t involved with student government, he would be doing missionary work in other countries. And while he has a full schedule, he does his best to help out.
Jake is on the Board of Directors for a charity called Photocharity, an organization that raises money for homeless youth in San Diego. According to their website, Photocharity.org, the organization has raised over $1.6 million in the past nine years. “I do a bunch of fundraising and meet with the kids here and there,” Jake said. He has been a part of this charity for a little over two years.
With all this good karma going his way, what keeps bringing him back to baseball? “I think it’s the closest sport you can relate to life and what I focus on is the relationships with people I meet while playing baseball. Your stats will go away, the scores, there will be new teams to win championships but the relationships you build with your teammates will last forever. So that’s what I kind of focus on and let everything else take care of itself.”
You might ask how does someone handle all that and be okay? “Nothing’s perfect about me, sometimes I give off….like nothing’s wrong with me at times just cause I try to stay positive but nothing in my life is going on any better than anybody else’s,” Portugal said.
This time next year, Jake will be playing baseball for Wheaton College in Chicago. He might not miss the full schedule but he will miss Mesa. “One thing I’ll miss about Mesa is the girls volleyball games and watching number 15,” he jokingly adds.
One piece of advice from Jake Portugal: “When you talk about your strengths, it brings competition. When you talk about your weaknesses, it brings community, it brings people together. I’d rather talk about what I’m not good at instead of what I excel at.”