HARWICH, Mass. - For Harwich Mariners shortstop Austin Nola (LSU), his path to Whitehouse field was like most other Cape Leaguers.
It began with a childhood dream that has thus far become a reality. And, like most other CCBL players, his work will not be complete until he has reached a level he feels is most exceptional, the Major Leagues.
What makes Nola’s story unique, though, is the fact that his aspirations and stories of success are shared by someone closest to him; his younger brother Aaron. And Austin couldn’t be happier for him.
In his career at LSU, Austin has accomplished more than most. In his freshman season, Austin was part of the National Championship team, where he was named to the 2009 NCAA Regional All-Tournament Team after providing crucial base hits in two LSU victories.
The following year, Austin was named Second-Team All-SEC, SEC All Tournament Team and the 2010 SEC Tournament Most Valuable Player. And this past season Austin started and played in every game for the Tigers, recording 42 RBIs and a solid .950 fielding average. Following closely in his brother’s footsteps, Aaron has been anything but outshined. In three varsity seasons at Catholic High in Baton Rouge, the 6-2, 170-pound right hander has gone 21-2 with 214 strikeouts.
Like his brother, he earned LSWA all-state honors twice, and is the recent recipient of the 2011 Louisiana Sports Writers Association's Farm Bureau/Mr. Baseball Award.
Next season, though, for the first time in their lives, these two brothers’ paths will merge. Aaron will attend LSU in the fall and the Nola’s will be pursuing their dreams on the same diamond.
The success of the Nola brothers brings to light the potential for a little sibling rivalry—especially in light of the recent MLB draft. Aaron was drafted in the 22nd round by the Toronto Blue Jays, Austin in the 31st round by the same team. Bitterness? Jealousy? Austin is quick to put those notions to rest.
“He’s a great player,” Austin said. “I’ve never played on the same team as him before so it will be nice to be able to work together. Unfortunately because of my schedule and his, I haven’t been able to see him play much, but from what I’ve heard and what I know, he’s a great pitcher.”
In a world full of people constantly competing with one another to be the best, Nola is simply proud of his brother. Nothing more. Nothing less. And, it is in this instance that the true character of Nola shines through and sets him apart from the rest. This character is something the Mariners value most in Nola and is one of many reasons he was asked to return to Harwich for a second summer.
“Austin Nola is the best all-around kid I’ve coached in my 13 years here. It’s a blast coaching him, he does everything that’s asked of him and the guys really feed off of what he does,” said Harwich Mariners Field Manager Steve Englert.
Englert attributes Austin’s success to his work ethic, but believes the foundation of his character was rooted back at home in Baton Rouge.
“Whatever his parents did with him, they should write a book. It’s obvious he was brought up the right way,” Englert said.
Austin holds the same admiration for the Mariners as they for him and was thrilled when he was asked to return for another summer.
“I was thrilled when I got asked to come back to Harwich this summer,” he said. “It’s an honor and I couldn’t ask for a better place to play. The coaches are great and I’m looking forward to a fun summer, ”Austin’s hopes for this summer are simple. He wants to relax, continue to develop and play the game he loves. Nola doesn’t have to think too long when considering his favorite aspect of the game.
A fitting answer for someone who puts the team and others before himself. Austin’s hopes for the future also embody who he is as a person.
“I just want to live life to the fullest and help as many people as I can,” he said. “I’m majoring in sports administration and would love to be able to coach someday and use my love for athletics to help others.”
As this summer plays out, Austin will prove to be more than valuable
to the Harwich Mariners. And if Aaron is anything like his older brother, LSU will be all the better for having not one, but two Nolas.