Award-winning, student-run, weekly campus newspaper of the University of Illinois, Springfield

The Observer

Award-winning, student-run, weekly campus newspaper of the University of Illinois, Springfield

The Observer

Award-winning, student-run, weekly campus newspaper of the University of Illinois, Springfield

The Observer


Get to Know UIS Baseball Players Tj Yakimiski and Johnny Colombo

The boys on media day | Photo credit: Ashlyn Beasley

TJ Yakimiski and Johnny Colombo are two UIS students a part of the men’s baseball team, both in their fourth year at UIS. TJ and Johnny are both from the Chicago area, where they grew up playing baseball at a young age and have stuck with it ever since. They came to UIS after High school, where they became roommates and also my across-the-hall neighbors. I got to know both of them very well over the last four years and thought it would be fitting to interview them as a pair, taking a page from the classic movie Stepbrothers.

The men’s baseball team is ramping up their season as they had their first series of the year in Nashville last week. The Star Boys split their first series with a tough Lenoir-Rhyne squad, including an outstanding pitching performance by Ryan Carmack. The team is looking dangerous as always and has their eyes on making it back to the College World Series for the second year in a row.

Baseball aside, I’ve discovered that these two great athletes and friends are just as great in the classroom. Both TJ and Johnny have been named Academic All-Conference in their time at UIS, showcasing the academic excellence instilled in our athletes. All of these accomplishments are very important, but their character as people and their lighthearted nature make them friends to all on campus. I sought to highlight their personalities, as I was able to pick their brain on what makes them absolute weapons they are.

Observer: When did you start playing baseball, and when did you know you would be able to play in college?

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TJ: I started playing baseball at age five, and playing college baseball became a dream of mine very early on since both my parents played college baseball and softball.

Johnny: I started playing baseball at four and knew I was going to play in college when I was 12.

Observer: Favorite bat you have ever had?

TJ: Green Demarini “The Goods”

Johnny: Stealth CNT

Observer: What position do you play, and what is your favorite position to play?

TJ: I play first, but my favorite position in high school was pitcher. I liked being in control of the game.

Johnny: Shortstop.

Observer: Favorite cheesy pickup line?

TJ: I seem to have lost my phone number. Can I have yours?

Johnny: Well, here I am. What are your other two wishes?

Observer: Any superstitions on the team?

TJ: I can’t really think of any for the team since it’s early in the year, but a personal superstition I have is that my pregame routine as soon as I get on the bus up until the game starts is always the same.

Johnny: My superstition is brushing my teeth two times in the morning on game days.

Observer: If you weren’t playing baseball, you would play what sport?

TJ: Football, I always wanted to play quarterback, but my parents never let me because they didn’t want me getting hurt.

Johnny: I always played basketball growing up, so if I were not to play baseball in college, I would have tried for basketball.

Observer: If there was a home run derby at the UIS baseball field, who would win on the team, and how many would you each get?

TJ: Between me and John, I’d have to take myself. I feel like if we both got 10 pitches, we’d both hit four, with the winner having to hit five plus.

Johnny: If there were a homerun derby for the whole team, Brant Vanaman would win. I think I would have four home runs in 10 pitches.

Observer: Death Row meal?

TJ: Steak, broccoli, buttered noodles, and a twice-baked potato.

Johnny: Steak and lobster.

Observer: Baseball “steeze”/ style?

TJ: Wrist tape, eye black, and chains. I also love stirrups.

Johnny: Eye black, arm sleeve, chain, wrist tape, Nike everywhere.

Observer: Who would win in a fight, both of you vs. Rougned Odor?

TJ: Probably Rougned Odor since he’s scrappy, but we’d definitely have the length on him, so it would be interesting for sure.

Johnny: I think both of us would win in the fight.

Observer: Best baseball movie of all time?

TJ: Moneyball.

Johnny: Mickey.

Observer: Favorite baseball chirp?

TJ: It’s kind of a thing only within our team, but the guys will for sure know this one is my favorite- “HEEEYUCK.”

Johnny: When we steal a bag, I yell, “stain.”

Observer: Goals for the season?

TJ: I want to contribute to the team in any way possible. I definitely want my role to be bigger than past seasons. As for numbers, I’m aiming for at least 2-3 home runs and to finish with a fielding percentage above .950. As a team, our ultimate goal is to make it back to the College World Series.

Johnny: Make it to the World Series and have the best possible time with the group of guys on our team.

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