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Behind the Balance: Ty Swaim ’24 — Keydet Baseball

LEXINGTON, Va. April 15, 2024 — Ty Swaim '24 didn’t want a lot of debt coming out of college and he knew one way for him to attain a good education was through a baseball scholarship. Virginia Military Institute wasn’t even a place he was thinking of until he was recruited to play for the Keydets. 

He said ultimately, he based his decision on attending VMI for the opportunity to play baseball, the trust he had with the coaching staff, and the expectations they had for VMI baseball player Ty Swaim '24him. But also, it was based on the financial opportunity it presented.  

Coming from a lower income household, he knew he had to get some sort of financial help, which he was able to with a combination of a baseball scholarship and financial aid. 

"Coming in here, it was the closest thing to a full scholarship that I could have gotten, especially for baseball, which is extremely tough to get,” he said.  

He also knew choosing to pursue VMI’s economic and business degree would work greatly for him.  

“The degree has a huge weight and significance,” he said.  

Being able to continue his love of baseball was a plus. His grandfather played professional baseball and his parents were heavily involved in athletics.  

“I feel like I always had a T-ball bat or a plastic bat in my hands,” he said. 

Playing sports has always been in his inventory.  

“It just so happened that baseball was the only one I was half decent at,” he joked. “If I wanted to go to college, it was the only one that I was good enough to play Division I, so that's kind of how that worked. I love baseball more than anything.” 

Swaim was drawn to baseball because of its competitiveness, combining both a team sport aspect and individual skill – competing as an individual on a team basis.  

"You're working with your teammates, but a lot of it boils down to individual things where you have the bat on your shoulders,” he said. “You have the ball in your hand where you can get the job done. I know from a hitter's perspective, when you're in the box, you're kind of in a war with the pitcher. It's just you guys. When you're on defense, when the ball’s hit, it's a team sport. You can go help out your pitcher, you can go make a play.” 

VMI baseball player Ty Swaim '24Cadet-athletes at VMI not only have their responsibilities with their selected sport but cadet duties on top of that.  Cadets are also required to take physical fitness classes twice a week, participate in ROTC all four years, prepare for room and uniform inspections, practice for parade, guard duty, and more. 

Days start early for Swaim, especially when he’s in season. He’s up most days at 5:15 a.m. to lift weights from 6 to 7:15 a.m. Then he rushes to grab breakfast to-go, so he can head back to his room, shower, change, put his hay up, and get ready for class.  

His schedule varies for certain days — Tuesdays and Thursdays he has class at 8 a.m. Wednesdays and Fridays, he doesn’t have class until 12:35 p.m. He uses his time wisely, though. On his free mornings, he spends them completing homework to get ahead, because he’s usually down on the field for more practice by 2:30 p.m. daily. 

This last semester is a bit different than years past. His previous years had been back-to-back classes then straight to practice. Now, as a 1st Class cadet, he’s given more of a break. 

His goal is to finish his homework during the week, so he can travel on the weekends or play at home for baseball.  

“I try to set up all my schoolwork to be done within that week because I know on the weekends, I just want to focus on baseball,” he said. "I know my brain is not going to be in the classroom, so I do all my schoolwork during the day.” 

His top priority right now is finishing strong for baseball. He feels that VMI has prepared him to come out on top in his sport, but also has prepared him for whatever life throws at him after graduation in May. 

“The busier I am, oddly enough, the better I am. This school doesn't really let up,” he said. “The schoolwork in the past has been extremely tough ... when you have three tests a day, it gets crazy. When I was super busy with really hard classes and heavy course loads, I ended up getting better grades because there was absolutely zero time for free time. Sometimes I think I work well in that just because when I do get free time, I tend to slack off.” 

He doesn’t take those slivers of days off for granted. His time at VMI has taught him to savor the downtime and treat it as a reward for working hard, and to acknowledge stress not necessarily being a bad thing. VMI baseball player Ty Swaim '24

"Having stress isn't bad, just being able to understand the stress and use it,” he said. "I think stress gets a bad rap, which obviously when you are stressed it's terrible. Everything brings you stress. But it gives you things to do, keeps your mind busy and things for you to work on. If there was no stress at all, I don't know that would be a very fun world to live in. No challenges to get over, there's nothing to focus on, there's no goals to meet.” 

Swaim admits he still has room to grow and isn’t quite sure of his next steps following graduation. But, VMI has created a great path for him. 

“I think I've matured a lot since I've been here. Of course, I think there's still so much more I can learn,” he said.  

His priorities for the spring — baseball and living in the moment. This is his last chance to play on a large scale. 

“I really want to focus on baseball and just ending on a good note. I have spent so much time in my life on it,” he said.  

Laura Peters Shapiro
Communications & Marketing

VMI: Forging 21st Century Leaders