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Olinde perseveres, finds new baseball home

Griffith Olinde’s baseball momentum was seemingly unstoppable in 2016.

Brilliant High School Season

Olinde, a Louisiana Tech commit, just capped another brilliant high school season at Claiborne Christian with a 2016 state championship. He earned MVP honors in Division V and maintained a running streak of earning All-State honors every year of his high school career.

Olinde worked hard for everything he had, but it seemed like no matter where baseball took him, success followed. He almost made it look easy.

Redshirt Freshman at Louisiana Tech

Baseball is a complicated game, though, and so is life. A couple of years later Olinde found himself as a redshirt freshman at Louisiana Tech, and the anxiety had overtaken him.

“I was a ball boy, and I would help put up flags before games and stuff like that my first year,” Olinde remembered. “It just wasn’t working out. So around February of my redshirt freshman year, I went into Coach (Lane) Burroughs office and told him that. So I ended up leaving and helped my dad last year. I never thought I’d play again.”

God Had Other Plans

Olinde planned on pursuing his marriage counselor degree at ULM in the fall of 2019. But God had other plans. Central Baptist College in Conway, AR unexpectedly entered the picture when Mustangs pitching coach Duffy Guyton called an old buddy of his and asked him if he wanted to catch up. The friend that he dialed just happened to be Olinde’s father, Claiborne Christian head coach Chad Olinde. The old companions caught up with breakfast and toward the end of their meal, Guyton just couldn’t help himself. He had to ask.

“He told my dad, ‘I’d be crazy if I didn’t ask if ‘G’ wanted to play baseball again,” Griffith Olinde said. “I had a bunch of smaller places reach out, but at that time, I just wasn’t interested. Every time it didn’t feel right. When dad came home and told me about it, something just peaked my spirit. I was like, ‘Umm, I’m not going to say yes, but I’m not going to say no either.’”

Baseball at Central Baptist College

After having a long conversation on the phone with Guyton, Griffith Olinde decided to take a visit. And after meeting head coach Aaron Brister and assistant coach Frank Lee, Griffith all but made up his mind. He was going to resume baseball at Central Baptist College, even if it was an unlikely choice to say the least.

Coaches Genuinely Care

“It’s weird because it’s the complete opposite of Louisiana Tech, where you had all of these nice facilities,” Griffith Olinde said. “At Central we don’t even have our own stadium. We don’t have a locker room or anything. We play at Conway Christian High School. So I definitely wasn’t attracted to the facilities. But the coaches there genuinely care about your well-being. They care about your relationship with God.”

Didn’t Miss a Beat

Because Griffith Olinde left Louisiana Tech as a redshirt freshman, he was technically a freshman this past season at Central Baptist. Despite his time away from actual competition, the 21-year-old slugger didn’t miss a beat in his limited season.

NAIA Honors

In a 26-game season (CBC was 21-5 in 2020), Griffith Olinde pieced together a season that would earn NAIA honors. Griffith Olinde made the NAIA Ball Podcast’s All-NAIA baseball team after hitting .471 and 13 home runs with 42 RBI as the team’s first baseman.

The 13 homers in 26 games caught many by surprise, including Griffith, who previously had a career-best of six homers in one season.

Changed My Swing

“Well, one thing I’ve always been able to do is hit,” Griffith Olinde said. “I took all that time off and then me and dad went on the field and hit BP, and it was pretty good. I changed my swing a little bit.”

Though the 13 homers might’ve surprised many who followed Griffith Olinde’s career, it certainly didn’t shock his old man. Chad Olinde watched Griffith tweak his swing and observed Griffith’s work ethic on the baseball field.

Able to Hit Home Runs

“I know his swing has been developed at a very young age,” Chad Olinde said. “I was lucky enough to get drafted and play a couple of years of minor league ball, and I knew that if a person is ever going to have that opportunity, unless they can absolutely fly, they have to be able to hit home runs. So that’s a swing we’ve talked about and worked on forever. So I wasn’t surprised he hit that many.”

Went the Extra Mile

Chad Olinde went the extra mile to see his son in person this past year, even if that meant jumping in the car after a doubleheader at Claiborne Christian Friday night to watch his son play a doubleheader in Arkansas the following day. Chad Olinde wouldn’t miss it for the world, and without a doubt, his presence there meant the world to Griffith.

Loving Me Beyond Baseball

“That day he came for the doubleheader I actually went 8-for-9 with two homers,” Griffith Olinde recalled. “I was feeling it, but for him to go through all that effort to come watch me means a ton. Dad has always been good about loving me beyond baseball. As soon as games were over, he would say, ‘Great game, where do you want to eat?’ It was never, ‘Oh my gosh, I can’t believe you struck out’ or anything like that.”

Season’s Abrupt Conclusion

The season’s abrupt conclusion kept Jalin Lawson’s 23 home runs in a single season record with the school in tact. Griffith Olinde’s 13 were on pace to snap that school record and also surpass assistant coach Trae Bobo’s 22 homers in a single-season, and Bobo was more aware than anyone else.

“We had a lot of fun with that,” Griffith Olinde said. “We were going back and forth. At one point he as like, ‘Hey, you need to slow down.’”

No Longer Prison to Anxiety

Even though Griffith Olinde’s season was cut short just like everyone else’s, he has a positive outlook on the situation. No longer prison to anxiety and full of joy after finding his new home for baseball, Griffith Olinde is thriving like never before.

This is About God

“You know, the season ending like that was tough at first, but being so plugged into Family Church here in West Monroe and being on the worship team, they really got me out of my headspace that it’s all about me,” he said. “This is about God. Think about where he’s taken me.”

About the author

Article was written by Jake Martin on April 22, 2020. Martin is an award-winning sports writer for columns and features since joining the field in 2013. As the first-ever featured columnist of the month at Bleacher Report, Martin cut his teeth with online media before joining the newspaper business in 2014.

Photo Caption: GRIFFITH OLINDE end spent time helping his father coach at Claiborne Christian before joining Central Baptist and hitting 13 homers last season. (Submitted photo)

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