by Mark Pomerville

Since he was 12 years old, Aaron Gooch ’21 knew he wanted to play college baseball at a Christian College. Not only did he have a passion for the game, but he also had a love for the Lord and desired to see his relationship with God and his gifts as a baseball player mature and grow.

In August 2017, Gooch enrolled as a freshman at Providence, eager to play for the Sea Beggars baseball team. Although he enjoyed the camaraderie he was forming with his teammates, his stats weren’t as strong as he had hoped. With only 20 at-bats in his first season, he was only chosen in the starting lineup twice and only had one hit to his name for the entire school season.

Even as Gooch experienced these setbacks on the field, he could not have anticipated the testing of faith he would endure toward the end of his freshman season. In Spring 2018, he noticed an unusual sensation in his left wrist. At first, the discomfort seemed minor, but the irritation turned into a severe soreness that inhibited him from participating in games. Over the summer, he attempted to alleviate the injury with tape and rest, but the pain persisted.

Finally, in Fall 2018, after visiting a physician, Gooch discovered that he had a broken hook of the hamate in his hand, an injury commonly found in baseball players as a result of the baseball bat knob frequently hitting one’s hand during games and practices. In the end, he would have to undergo surgery to repair the damage. When Gooch finally returned to play at Providence, he wasn’t the same. He couldn’t hit, and he quickly became discouraged by the prospect of having to turn in his cleats and end his baseball career.

“My dad always said that baseball was a lot like life,” he said. “You will fail a lot. But whether you fail in life or on the field, what are you going to do? How are you going to respond? Are you going to stay down or get back up?”

Gooch was determined to get back on the field. Although he was still wearing a cast, he would show up to the weight room and all the practices with his team. He realized that, if he were to get fully back on his feet, he would need to put even more effort into his recovery. “People look up to me on the team,” said Gooch. “They see me as a leader, and, I knew that, as soon as I got my cast off, I would have to give it my all because they were all watching how I would respond.”

In January 2019, the cast was removed, and he began to pursue baseball again with an unmatched determination. From hitting in the batting cages in the early morning, to staying up late at night studying swings from professional players, Gooch became known for always being the first to arrive on the field and the last one to leave. He also began a daily practice journal, chronicling all of his improvements and goals he wanted to achieve.

Through prayer and persistence, his game improved over a period of a few months, exceeding the expectations of his coaches, teammates, and himself. Following his recovery, Gooch broke the 2019 single season home-run record and achieved a whopping 125 at-bats and 35 hits. Over the course of this season, he started in over 35 games and is currently tied for most career home runs for the college. He holds the top invert offensive category for a current Sea Beggar, and he was recently voted as the team captain by his peers. This spring, Gooch was awarded the Baseball Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award for having the highest cumulative GPA on the Baseball team.

“Aaron Gooch exemplifies exactly what we desire from each baseball player at Providence,” said Baseball Coach Cody Walter. “He is devoted to becoming a great leader both on and off the field, and his numbers on the field and in the classroom are a testament to the hard work he has put in over the last year.”

While Gooch’s playing stats have improved, so has his walk with Christ. Gooch acknowledges that the Lord has used his injury not only to strengthen him as a player but also as a man of God. “This injury brought a lot of frustration,” said Gooch. “But I can see God’s plan now. He used my pain to steer me in the direction He wanted me to go. He has pushed me harder to achieve my goals and demonstrate godly diligence that can be an inspiration to the other players around me.”

As Gooch prepares for his next season, the injury that once held him back has helped motivate him to improve even more, giving his best to the Lord at every game. “I’m giving everything I have now to God. Through this pain, I’ve learned that when things are going good, give your praise to God. And when things aren’t going well at all, still give your praise to God.”