Aaron Holiday believes that lessons learned in baseball can also be applied to life in general.
"Baseball is one of the only sports where if you fail 70% of the time, you are a Hall of Famer," he said. "So, you really have to learn how to fail and learn how to come back from those failures to be successful."
In 2021, Holiday, a mechanical engineering major at Old Dominion University, was drafted by the Oakland A's, and then traded to the San Diego Padres. He spent last season as a relief pitcher for the Lake Elsinore Storm, the Padres’ Single-A affiliate in the California League.
Holiday's March-to-September schedule includes spring training in Arizona and then California for baseball season. In the fall, he comes back to Norfolk where he continues to train and take afternoon classes.
Holiday can see the connections between his studies and his sport. "Engineering has really helped me to understand the mechanics of baseball," he said. "Like how pitches spin, the direction that the ball is going and how the force you put down on the mound creates velocity."
Holiday grew up in Bear, Delaware, in a sports-oriented family. His father played baseball and football at Delaware State University, and his sister Noelle, was captain and a four-year starter for Georgetown University's softball team.
Most of his middle school years were spent playing on Little League and travel teams. In high school, he played for Caravel Academy.
He had never heard of ODU until the Monarchs recruited him. "I instantly fell in love with the campus, the city and being so close to Virginia Beach," he said. "And the engineering program is very, very good. So, it felt like the place for me to be."
At ODU, Holiday excelled on the team as well as in the classroom. During a 2021 NCAA Regionals game against the University of South Carolina, he pitched two hitless innings with two strikeouts, earning a save in ODU’s 2-1 victory.
"It was probably the biggest game ODU has ever played," he explained. "And one of the most nervous outings I have ever pitched in. I had butterflies in my stomach."
After being drafted by the A's, he spent spring training with the team.
The trade, however, was a surprise. "I woke up one day and got a call saying I was going to the San Diego Padres," he said. "It really caught me off guard. But it's been a blessing. I love San Diego and what they have done for me so far."
Holiday's long-term goal is to make it to the major leagues. "I have learned not to think too far ahead and just focus on getting 1% better every day," he said.