High School Sports

SENIOR STARS: Falcons’ Van der Walt thinks the game

By DENNIS SILVA II, Times Sports Editor
Posted 3/25/20

Tompkins senior Monray Van der Walt was 12 years old when he and his family moved from South Africa to the United States.

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High School Sports

SENIOR STARS: Falcons’ Van der Walt thinks the game

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Tompkins senior Monray Van der Walt was 12 years old when he and his family moved from South Africa to the United States.

Until that point, Van der Walt’s exposure to sports was limited to rugby and cricket. But when he got to the States, he started playing baseball.

“In my second game I ever played, I hit two back-to-back home runs in the same game,” Van der Walt said. “That’s when I knew I wanted to play this game for as long as I possibly can.”

Van der Walt will be playing for quite a while longer.

The catcher/first baseman is a Lamar University signee, with highly acclaimed athleticism, strength and balance at the catcher position and a direct swing with solid bat speed at the plate. He is a tantalizing 6-foot, 190-pound prospect with a high ceiling.

He is a baseball junkie. Van der Walt does not have many hobbies. Most free time he has is spent toward doing something, anything, to becoming a better player. One of his passions, for example, is weightlifting.

Van der Walt is also a thinker, a cerebral physical specimen who embraces the mental aspect of the game.

“I’m a firm believer that success is made behind the scenes,” Van der Walt said. “I believe that it is very important to mentally focus yourself on your goals in order to accomplish them. A lot of times, when I drive to and from places, I kind of mentally calm my thoughts and think about what I want to accomplish in the near future, a plan that I can make for myself to follow to accomplish my goals.”

It’s why LeBron James is his favorite athlete.

“Because of how he handles situations he’s put in,” Van der Walt said. “I often listen to his podcasts when he talks about the mental game and how he has used that to his advantage, how he is able to analyze a situation and slow the game down.”

Van der Walt spoke more with The Katy Times about baseball and life.

Q: What is the fondest memory you have of playing baseball?

A: My sophomore year, we played against Fulshear High. I came up to bat with the bases loaded on a 3-2 count, with a tied game, and hit a grand slam to give us the lead.

Q: What has been the proudest moment of your high school career?

A: When I finally announced my commitment to play D1 baseball and further my career in college. I’ve worked extremely hard for this, and it’s honestly by God’s grace that I’ve been given this amazing opportunity. I felt that my hard work has finally paid off. There was a time when a lot of people told me I couldn’t do it and that I wasn’t good enough. For me, I just kept working and told myself that there’s going to be a day that I’ll rise above my doubters. And the day I announced my commitment was the day I felt the proudest, to be able to prove people wrong.

Q: How has playing baseball and playing for Tompkins made you a better person?

A: The game of baseball is often said to be a game of failure, and that you’ll fail more than you’ll succeed. I think it is very true. Personally, I have tremendous respect for the game, and I feel that there is a right way to play it and a wrong way. Playing on this team, and just baseball in general, along with the very tedious recruiting process, I’ve learned to deal with setbacks. I feel that I’ve matured in the way I think about situations on and off the field and how to deal with conflicts. Mental toughness.

Q: What are your thoughts about the UIL possibly canceling the rest of its spring sports season?

A: Our season getting postponed, possibly canceled, definitely hit deep, and it’s honestly something I know I’ll remember forever. All I want to do is play baseball. I mean, (a couple weeks ago) we were getting ready for our first district game. Our lineup was looking good, the pitching staff heating up. But now everything is so uncertain. This whole situation kind of made me realize that I need to cherish every moment I get to be on the field and take nothing for granted. I think a lot of players, including myself, realize now that it can be taken away from you at any moment. It’s really eye-opening to think that this whole situation is out of your control and might be the last you’ll ever play high school baseball.

Q: What are your thoughts in general about COVID-19, or novel coronavirus, and these times of social distancing?

A: I think the coronavirus came as a surprise for many people, including myself. It’s kind of scary and almost feels like something that only happens in movies; it’s unreal. I think this definitely impacts our economy, and I honestly hope everything can go back to normal. Most of us sometimes wish we didn’t have school because of homework or classes, but I think all of us wish we had school at this point. Plus, going to school means baseball players get to play ball.

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