On April 5, Ole Miss baseball captain Tim Elko was hitting .340 and led the SEC with 36 RBIs. Then he tore an ACL, which requires surgery.
However, instead of scheduling that surgery, Elko explored delaying it so he could continue to play if the swelling went down enough and the pain was manageable. Sure enough, less than a month later, he made his return against South Carolina on May 1, serving as Ole Miss’ designated hitter. Seven days later, he homered in a win over Texas A&M.
Elko took leading by example to another level this week — he hit two home runs on Wednesday in the Rebels’ 5-4 loss to Vanderbilt in the SEC Tournament. The first blast was a three-run shot in the sixth inning that gave Ole Miss a 3-1 lead.
Tim Elko of @OleMissBSB tore his ACL on April 5. Since returning in May, he's recorded 3 HR and 7 RBI.
— ESPN (@espn) May 27, 2021
After the Commodores tied the game in the bottom half of the inning, Elko went yard again in the eighth to restore the Rebels’ lead.
I DON'T BELIEVE WHAT WE ARE SEEING.
— Ole Miss Baseball (@OleMissBSB) May 27, 2021
Vanderbilt would score twice in the bottom of the ninth to win the game, but the story of the night was Elko. He and the Rebels were back in action Thursday against Georgia in the double-elimination tournament, and secured a 4-0 victory in which Elko went 0-for-1 and walked three times. They face Vanderbilt on Friday for a spot in the semifinals.
Now in his fourth year in Oxford, Elko did not have Ole Miss on his radar while he was growing up in Lutz, Florida. He said recently on the Ole Miss FCA Time-out podcast he became aware of Ole Miss through playing summer ball and talking to coaches.
“[I] came for a visit and just absolutely fell in love,” he said. “Just a beautiful campus, great little town. It was just a place I wanted to be and felt called to come to.”
Elko was raised in a Christian home where going to church and reading the Bible were regular occurrences. Both his Twitter bio and Instagram bio include references to his faith and Bible verses from the Book of James.
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He gave thanks to God in a tweet after being named SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year on Monday.
So blessed, thank you God! https://t.co/jN2GQ03k6e
— Tim Elko (@TimElko) May 24, 2021
“Faith is No. 1 on the list for me,” Elko said on the podcast. “Sometimes it’s tough being on a college baseball team trying to be the best baseball player you can but also be a great example for others and really just try to show Jesus through you and let Him just shine through you. That’s what I try to do each and every day when I’m around the other guys.”
He makes a point of trying to live in a way that glorifies God and illustrates how important his faith is to him. Being an athlete in the SEC provides Elko an opportunity to be an ambassador for Christ as he interacts with teammates, coaches and fans.
“I pray all the time, ‘God, please just help to shine Your light through me so that other people can see You through me,'” he said.
Whether Elko is doing his best Kirk Gibson impression on national television or simply going about his day-to-day life, his goal is to keep everything focused on Christ.
“My hope is that the way I carry myself and the way other people see me, my hope is that they see Jesus’ love and His light and His joy within me,” he said.
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