It wasn’t an easy decision for Nolan McLean to quit football. The Oklahoma State sophomore utility player and pitcher arrived in Stillwater with plans to be a two-sport athlete, something he had done successfully his entire athletic life.
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Playing baseball in the major leagues has been his main focus since he was a child, though, so after his freshman year at OSU, he made the decision to focus solely on baseball. The early results appear to show it was a wise choice.
McLean is one of the best players on a Cowboys team that will host an NCAA regional this week as the No. 1 regional seed and No. 7 national seed with hopes of being one of the final eight teams that make it to Omaha for the College World Series. They face Missouri State in the opening round Friday.
McLean is also a leader off the field, leading one of several team Bible studies. He recently appeared on Sports Spectrum’s “Table Forty” podcast with Oklahoma State assistant coach (and former MLB All-Star) Matt Holliday and his wife, Leslee, and shared about how his faith in God guides him as an athlete and a person.
“A full love and compassion for Him makes everything on the field go so much smoother,” McLean said on the podcast.
McLean grew up in Willow Springs, North Carolina, in what he considered to be a Christian home, but he said his parents wanted him to discover his faith on his own, and for him to make his own decision about what he believed. That discovery process is what led him to understanding the character of Christ, he said.
“Growing up, I always knew and felt there was something out there, that there was a God of some kind,” McLean said. “I didn’t really know what, so I started researching and reading and started reading the Bible and I was like, ‘This makes a lot of sense to everyday life and I can use this from a personal standpoint.’
“I think playing with that sort of faith outside of the field, there’s only so much wrong that can go on the field. At the end of the day, I’m still God’s son. I’m still His child. He loves me. He doesn’t care if I went 0-for-4 or hit four jacks, He’s going to love me regardless.”
McLean has seen more success than failure on the field this year. He’s batting .272 and is tied for the team lead with 14 home runs. He’s also driven in 40 runs. On the mound, he boasts a 3.91 earned run average with 36 strikeouts, nine walks and five saves across 23.0 innings pitched.
The first-team All-Big 12 selection as a utility player is eligible for the 2022 MLB Draft since he is 21 years old.
Missile 🚀#OurStandard I @nolanmclean11 pic.twitter.com/eKMwYwBriz
— OSU Cowboy Baseball (@OSUBaseball) May 28, 2022
He credits a lot of his success to the work ethic he developed when he was younger, and the example his father set for him by working hard to provide for the family. McLean said it was in middle school that he fell in love with lifting weights. He enjoyed going to bed early and getting up early to work out and considers himself to be a “big routine guy.”
Focusing on the process and not necessarily the end results has allowed him to stay locked in and see incremental improvements.
“I think you can really build confidence with how hard you work outside of the actual game,” he said. “For me, when I step in the box, I know there’s no way this guy has outworked me to this point, so that’s kind of where I get my confidence from.”
It all goes back to his foundation of faith, though. He knows there will be plenty of struggles in baseball, but he said his faith in God helps him have the proper perspective.
“The main thing for me is no matter what kind of day you had, I don’t want anybody to know if I had a good day or bad day at the plate or in the field or on the mound, whatever it might have been,” he said. “I think when you look at life, about the personal aspect and the relationships you have, then baseball is only a small little fraction of that. You can always be nice to somebody or you can always be in your best mood.”
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