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How a Rebel Found His Home: the Story of Ryan Olenek

Freshman baseball player Ryan Olenek has been a major key to the Rebels hot start this season. His transition from the high school game to the collegiate level has been smooth, but the decisions that lead him here to Oxford were not as easy.

Ryan Olenek, photo from baseball.olemissrebels.com
Ryan Olenek, photo from baseball.olemissrebels.com

Olenek was a highly touted prospect out of Trinity Prep high school in Winter Springs, Fla. The 6’5’’ young talented shortstop had every college coach and professional scout in the country drooling. His offensive and defensive skill set along with his pitching ability made him a top target for the New York Mets organization. So much so that the Mets contacted him on draft day and asked if he would consider signing a contract with them.

“I never thought it could actually become a reality until you get that call and get offered money to play the sport you love, its really humbling,” Olenek said.

That phone call put Olenek in the greatest pickle of his life. The decision to play ball professionally or play collegiately weighed heavily on his mind his whole senior season. Ultimately Olenek decided to forgo the opportunity in the pros. His education and the college experience was something he could not pass up.

“It was hard to turn down, but I thought about how much I could improve my game and mature mentally and physically,” Olenek said.

Now that his focused shifted to choosing a college things got a lot easier again. There was only one school on his radar and that was Ole Miss. Coach Mike Bianco and staff hopped on Olenek early offering him a scholarship in the ninth grade. It also helped the Ole Miss baseball staff that one of his sisters goes to school at Ole Miss.

His older sister and senior at Ole Miss, Kelsey Olenek, said, “When he was deciding on his future I kept reminding him not to disappoint me and make me sad by not coming here, because of course I wanted him here with me but I told him I would be happy and supportive him in whatever he did.”

“They were my first offer, I knew I wanted play against top competition and the SEC was for me, once I toured the facilities and campus I knew I belonged here plus having family in the stands cheering you on every game is pretty awesome,” Olenek said.

Olenek is proving that he belongs providing solid defense at multiple positions with a batting average at .261 with 10 RBI and one HR in this young season. Even though his production has been solid so far, Olenek is still hungry for more success.

“I have really high expectations for myself and think that I can play better, but as long as we are winning games and playing hard like how the Rebels are known for that’s all that matters,” Olenek said.

Olenek and the No.11 Rebels are looking to bounce back after a tough series against now No.2 South Carolina last weekend. They are heading down to Starkville this Friday for a series with the rival #12 Bulldogs hoping to create some momentum heading into a tough conference schedule.


Alex Gonzalez is a journalism major at Meek School of Journalism and New Media. He can be reached at acgonza1@go.olemiss.edu.

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