June 15, 2011
Meet The Illini’s Wes Braun
Growing up in the North Suburbs of Chicago there was one athlete everyone knew, his name was Ryan Hogan. Hogan played basketball at Deerfield and was a stud. I still recall stories of Rick Pitino arriving in a limo to Deerfield High School to get Hogan to commit. I played pickup against Hogan once, right around the time he left Iowa (transferred there after Kentucky). He was awesome, although I did take him off the dribble a few times. But since Hogan athletes have been coming out of the area and making noise. Jon Scheyer and Jason Kipnis are perfect examples. Now meet Wes Braun. Wes, no relation to Ryan Braun, is the younger brother of my friend Jen. I saw on facebook what Wes and the Fighting Illini baseball team had been doing and I knew I had to get an interview. Turns out Wes is a good guy, smart, a fraternity brother of mine, and becoming quite the pitcher. Below is Wes’ story. It is safe to say TGR will be following his progress. Maybe Israel’s WBC team has found its closer.
1) Tell TGR a little bit about yourself.
I was born and raised in Deerfield, Illinois. I was always pretty good at baseball and played it from the time I could physically hold a bat and throw a ball. In high school I played soccer for three years and baseball all four years. I was never the greatest athlete or most talented but always worked hard to earn playing time. I didn’t receive any division one college baseball offers so I went to University of Illinois for the education. I walked on to the varsity baseball team as a sophomore. I received my Bachelor’s degree in communication, which I had finished in three and a half years and am now pursuing my Masters in Business Administration degree. I am scheduled to receive my MBA in spring of 2012.
2) You went to Deerfield High School, like other great athletes including Colt Cabana and Jessica Gitles. How was you High school team and when did you know you had a chance at playing college?
My high school teams were up and down. We were always the underdogs even when we were a pretty
To say that baseball is not well known or supported on campus is an understatement. Whenever I would invite people to my games the first question was always “where is the baseball field?”. Our contribution this year has seemingly already put baseball on the map because I have seen more t-shirts and collectibles that say Illinois Baseball on them than ever before. It is pretty exciting to be a part of a team that went further than any other Illinois baseball team in the previous decade and I hope that this season just serves as a stepping stone for the improvement of our program.4) How did the team do this season? What was your role?
After an incredibly slow start, we ended the season on quite a run winning the big ten conference and then the big ten tournament. We advanced to the NCAA regional tournament for the first time in 10 years and made it to the regional championship by beating Cal-State Fullerton who was ranked top ten in the country and number one in our region before being defeated by Stanford. My role on the team was as the team’s closer for which I very much excelled. I was named third team all-big ten as a relief pitcher as I only gave up one earned run in conference. That was the only run I gave up throughout my first eighteen appearances.5) What are you plans this summer?
This summer I am still looking to play baseball. It seems as if I have generated some interest in Major League teams and I am hoping to sign a professional contract soon.6) Are you a part of any other clubs on campus?
Beside playing for the club baseball team my freshman year, I was also a member of Sigma Alpha Mu
It is difficult to fully foresee what exactly my future plans are, however, I would like to continue to play baseball as long as I possibly can. With that being said, I only have one more year to complete my MBA program and after I have received that and no longer can play baseball, I would still enjoy being able to be a part of baseball in some capacity for my career.8) If you could start a team with Ryan Braun, Ian Kinsler, or Kevin Youkilis who would it be?
It would definitely have to be Ryan Braun. Besides having a great name, he has proven to become one of the top players in the entire league right now in all facets of the game.9) Favorite Chicago pizza place?
Although I am bias to Papa Del’s here in Champaign, I would have to go Jake’s pizza in Northbrook
Thanks Wes and Good Luck.