Life is a long road and it’s hard to predict where it will take you. Pitman High alumnus Grant Silva has spent the last six years learning this lesson, traveling several different paths and pursuing several different plans since graduating in 2006.
After a high school career that included two Central California Conference football championships and a San Joaquin Section DI final appearance in baseball, Silva packed his bags and headed for Fresno, seemingly leaving athletics behind him as he focused on higher education. Silva quickly experienced the fickleness of fate, however, as his educational plans fell through and he found himself working full time for Pepsi.
Two years later Silva decided it was time to return home where he began working full time for Bronco Winery while questioning his future. Silva’s dissatisfaction with work spurred a decision to go back to school; a decision that, unbeknownst to him, would lead to big changes and a rekindling of an old flame.
“I decided I had to go back to school because my job wasn’t taking me anywhere,” Silva said. “A couple guys asked, ‘Why not play baseball?’ So I said I’d give it a shot.”
Silva enrolled at Merced College where he walked onto the school’s baseball team. Initially, he was to be limited to a base running role and expected to play very little as he had been completely out of baseball for several years.
“At first I really struggled. It took me a while to get back into the groove of things,” Silva said. “At first it was mostly mental. I was struggling and getting frustrated and I was worried about even making the team.”
Undeterred by the obstacles before him, Silva decided to put in the extra work needed to get him back in the game. Outside of practice the Turlock native could be found refining his technique on the field, hitting baseballs at his former high school, and pumping iron for hours in the weight room. With the support of family and friends Silva pushed himself to improve, gaining 25 pounds and the attention of his Merced coaches.
By his sophomore year Silva was a regular face in the Blue Devil lineup where he remained for two years. In 2011 he was named to the 2nd team All CVC and in 2012 he made the 1st team All CVC as well as the All Nor-Cal JC team. After saying goodbye to baseball Silva was back and better than ever.
“It was unexpected because baseball was really just a secondary thing, to help get me through school and get me on campus so I could go to classes,” Silva said.
“It’s very difficult to do what he did,” Pitman’s former head baseball coach Mick Tate said. “There aren’t a lot of kids that can do that.”
If Silva’s success at Merced was unexpected his next opportunity was surely a surprise.
Two solid seasons and a good performance at the Northern California Sophomore Showcase had piqued the interest of several universities including Texas Tech, UC San Diego, and Tabor College. With a 90 percent scholarship deal on the table Silva decided his next stop would be Kansas and the Tabor College baseball program.
“I felt like it was a good fit. There were some teammates from Merced already here so it was comfortable for me,” Silva said. “The scholarship was also big on me coming here. I had some other big offers, but not as big as this one.”
Silva arrived in Kansas a little over two months ago and has been preparing for baseball season since getting settled in. As the Turlocker eyes a potential World Series run with the Blue Jays he still keeps an eye and ear towards home, keeping himself grounded and in touch with the people who helped him along the way.
“I talk to a bunch of guys, players and coaches from Merced and I stay in touch with Coach Tate a lot too,” Silva said. “They really support me so it’s always good to talk to them. They keep me honest by making sure I stay in school and that I’m doing the right things with baseball.”
“He was one of those kids that battled hard every day to find a way into the lineup and I appreciate that kind of effort,” Tate said. “He was a team guy and worked really hard and he’s the kind of person who’s going to keep putting in the hard work to succeed.”
With baseball back in his life Silva’s future looks bright, a shining example of the mysterious ways of life and the unexpected twists and turns it presents us all.
“It’s still hard to believe,” Silva said. “Just over three years ago I was working full time at a hard labor job and wondering where it was all going to take me.”