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Time Well Spent

Former college baseball player offers advice on balancing academics and athletics

Spare time is a rare commodity for a college baseball player, especially in-season.

Keeping up with academics while playing a season that includes plenty of road trips and some weekday games leaves little room for much else for most players. But Robert Grilli isn’t like most other baseball student-athletes.

The Playbook

Author: Robert Grilli
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (June 1, 2016)
Pages: 80
Price: $14.95

In his spare time, he wrote a book during his senior season at Houston, where he graduated in spring 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in economics. The goal of “The Playbook: A Student-Athlete’s Guide to Success” is to offer advice to those juggling academics and athletics while in college.

Grilli mainly wrote on Monday and Wednesday mornings — the dependable hours when he had free time. He also composed a few paragraphs while the Cougars were traveling for road games.

“The only people I told about this were my dad and our director of compliance, Lauren DuBois,” he says. “On the plane rides, I would make sure the person next to me was asleep, and I would whip out my laptop, dim the brightness down and keep writing.”

Grilli, who grew up in Toronto, said three key events inspired him to write his book. The first was the imminent high school graduation of his younger brother, Thomas, who was trying to navigate the college baseball recruiting process. Then Grilli found himself with a couple of opportunities to share his personal story about the balance between athletics and academics. One of his professors asked Grilli to appear in a video about how he manages academic success, given his schedule as a student-athlete.

And when he was invited to participate in freshman-senior success meetings, where Houston seniors mentor freshmen and tell them what they wish they had known at the start of college, Grilli realized he had an important message to share.

Grilli, who now works as a business development manager for a Toronto technology company, believes learning how to manage time is an important skill for a student-athlete.

“One of the things that helped me was developing an agenda,” says Grilli, who began his college career at Salt Lake City Community College before transferring to Houston. “At the start of each semester, I would input all my practice dates, game dates and take the syllabus from my professors and enter the due dates for projects and tests. It ensured that I was staying on track.”

About Champion

Champion magazine goes behind the headlines and beyond the scoreboards to celebrate the unique connection between Americans and college sports. Champion is published by the NCAA.