BY STEVE KRAH
Hayden Schott traded West Coast sunshine for education and direction in northern Indiana.
He is now shining on the baseball diamond as an Ivy Leaguer and has already got a future spot in Texas.
A native of Newport Beach, Calif., Schott opted to follow a family tradition and attended high school at Culver (Ind.) Academies, graduating in 2018.
Hayden’s mother Darcie as well as an aunt, uncle and grandfather on that side of the family all attended Culver.
Darcie and Paul Schott’s children — Josephine, Hayden and Mitchell — all had the option of going there.
“I was really hesitant at first because I loved surfing and playing baseball in warm weather being a kid in California,” says Schott. “Once I visited the place it blew me away and it was a no-brainer for me.”
Schott lived in a dormitory with students ranging from 14 to 18.
“My first year I was barely 14 and was living with no parents and a roommate who I had just met. It taught me really quick I need to be responsible and have some discipline on my own.
“I wouldn’t have learned that without going there. It’s helped me in college because living away from home and parents was pretty normal to me.”
Hayden says his parents — including former Bryant University lacrosse player Paul Schott — knew that he would learn from the experience, but did not force it on him.
“At a place like that you have to want to go there,” says Schott. “If you don’t you resent the whole process. You rebel against the system or the whole military thing. You definitely have to buy in if you’re going to go to a place like that.”
Kurt Christiansen is head baseball coach at Culver Academies with J.D. Uebler as varsity assistant.
“They were instrumental in my mental space for baseball — enjoying myself, letting me do what I’m good at out on the field and also teaching me some small-ball stuff that I may have never thought about before that I could translate to the next level very well,” says Schott. “They gave me that freedom while also being there to instruct me and constructively criticize me when I needed it. For a 15- to 18-year-old baseball player that was huge.”
Schott grew up as a catcher and moved to the outfielder in high school. The righty thrower and lefty swinger was selected for the 2018 Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association North/South All-Star Series in South Bend.
A redshirt in 2019 at Cypress (Calif.) College, Schott played in 18 games for the Anthony Hutting-coached Chargers and hit .317 with one home run and 18 runs batted in before the COVID-19 pandemic shortened the 2020 season.
After his junior college days, Schott transferred to Columbia University in New York, N.Y., and did not play in 2021 when the Ivy League opted to take another COVID year off for athletics.
In his first full collegiate baseball season, Schott set a single-season Ivy record in league league play for at-bats (88) and tied marks for home runs (8) and total bases (88) while being named to the all-conference first team.
Primarily a right fielder, the 6-foot-2, 215-pounder started in 49 of 50 appearances in 2022 and hit .320 while leading the Brett Boretti-coached Lions in homers (12), RBIs (55), total bases (117), hits (63), at-bats (197) and slugging average (.594).
Heading into Columbia’s 2023 home opener Wednesday, March 22 against Manhattan, No. 3-hole hitter Schott is batting .397 (25-of-63) with four homers, 10 RBIs, 14 runs scored and a .441 on-base percentage.
The Lions are 6-9 and have played at Power 5 schools Virginia and Alabama with a win against the Crimson Tide.
In his third academic career at Columbia, Schott is scheduled to graduate this spring with a Psychology degree. It’s a field that also interests his brother. Hayden says he can see himself pursuing something related to men’s mental health in the future.
“I love psychology,” says Schott, who turns 23 in May. “I listen to psychology podcasts. I like to listen to clinical psychologists talk about neuroscience, how the brain works and why our behaviors are the way they are.
“My other major is baseball.”
Since Ivy League schools do not have graduate school athletes and Schott is entitled to another year of eligibility, he was able to land a spot with Texas A&M in 2023-24 and has hopes of playing pro ball. Anderson (Ind.) High School graduate Michael Earley is the hitting coach for the Aggies.
“I’m super excited and I think it’s going to be awesome to play in the SEC,” says Schott, who expects he might pursue masters degree related to business. “But my current head space is Columbia baseball. That’s all I’m focused on.
“I’ve had a weird journey in my baseball career. But I’m very grateful for it. I’ve been to a lot of spot and met a lot of great people. I wouldn’t change it for the world because it brought me here.”
Like Culver Academies, Schott has seen his share of wintry weather in New York.
“It’s good,” says Schott. “It teaches you resiliency. We practice sometimes when it’s sleeting or snowing.
You can appreciate when you play on a warm field with a real surface. I’m grateful for having played through that for sure.”