Nov. 17, 2011
Casey Lytle (Outfielder) 2008-11
Lytle is the most recent former student-athlete to be featured on Throwback Thursday. He capped off his four-year career for Coach Ritch Price and the Jayhawk baseball team earlier this year. During his playing days, Lytle compiled a .290 batting average, with 166 hits, 72 RBI and 114 runs scored. Lytle was also known for his defense, earning a .971 fielding percentage, while patrolling the Hoglund Ballpark outfield. Now the Phoenix, Ariz. Native can be found just a short walk from where he once played, as an intern for the Williams Education Fund, while he completes his Master’s Degree in business.
Why did you choose to come to KU?
“I was originally born in Kansas City, Mo. My mom, dad, aunts, uncles and cousins all went to KU, so it was in my blood from the beginning. Then we moved to Arizona when I was about to go into high school but I knew that KU was always a good option (for school) because growing up, I went to all the basketball games, football games and all sorts of events here. When I got the opportunity to play college baseball, it just so happened that KU was one of the places I could go. It was really the best of both worlds, because I just knew KU was the best place to be for me.”
What did you find to be the most difficult part of balancing a full load of school and busy athletic schedule?
“The balancing is the toughest part because it is just about making sure you don’t over-commit yourself to too many things. You want to be able to do everything to the best of your ability, whether it’s competing on the field or in the classroom. You also want to maintain a social life to where you aren’t a person that keeps to them self, because you make some of your best friends on the team. A few of my best friends, Jimmy (Waters), Jordan (Jakubov) and T.J. (Walz) were my roommates and you just become so involved with them.”
What was your favorite part about being a member of the baseball team?
“I just loved the people that I was around. I have made some of my best friends here and it’s the moments that you have playing baseball, whether they are on or off the field that are so great, because I can sit back and laugh at myself about the funny things that have happened. You just always have this pride playing for KU. If I’m travelling back to Arizona and I am wearing a KU jacket, people ask about it so it was real fun to represent a university that is so well known and respected across the United States.”
Is there one specific moment from your career that stands out?
“I got a game-winning hit against Missouri my junior year (2010). It was my first game-winning anything, so it was an awesome moment, especially because it was against our rivals. It was in extra-innings, so all that excitement built up and we actually ended up sweeping them. We beat them a total of four times that year, so that was just icing on the cake.”
Baseball is known for funny pranks and colorful personalities. Are there some off-the field or between innings memories that you have from your playing days?
“There are definitely moments that I sit back and laugh about, like when Jimmy and I would crack up about the funny things fans would yell to us when we were standing in the outfield. They would get outrageous! People in the dugout and pitchers in the bullpen would be getting the same thing, so we would come in and laugh about that.”
How would you describe your relationship with head coach Ritch Price?
“We had a great relationship. He respects you as a person, on and off the field and he makes you accountable. You are coming to college and turning into a grown man, so he expects certain things out of you, but in return, he gives you the same amount-if not more-respect. The way he teaches you is great. He is not going to yell at you if you make some little mistake that’s physical because that happens and baseball is built on failure. If you are not running hard or hustling, then that’s where he really hits it hard that you play the game hard and you hustle. I remember some of the drills we did where we had to practice just running out to our positions. He really taught us how to grow as men off the field and how to be great players on the field. That is what really makes a great coach, especially in the college environment. You get a lot of personalities from places all over the country, so he does a really great job at balancing them all.”
You have decided to stay involved with the athletic department by working in the Williams Education Fund, what is your role there?
“Right now I am a graduate assistant in the Williams (Education) Fund. I am in the first semester of getting my Master’s degree in accounting and I will graduate in May of 2012. In the office, I assist with anything donor-related or with just with anything that anybody needs help with. We help out at events, whether it’s in the End Zone Club or the Naismith Room and Atrium for basketball games. At the clubhouse for baseball games, we will be doing some events as well.”
What are your plans for yourself after you receive your Master’s degree?
When I finish my degree, I will have a job at an accounting firm called PricewaterhouseCoopers back in Arizona, where I will start in the fall (2012). Once I graduate, I will work on the CPA exam, which is more studying and more tests. Then, I will be getting married on Oct. 13, 2012, so that’s great. I’ve got a busy year coming up!”
Why would you recommend the KU student-athlete experience to others? What sets Kansas apart?
“The opportunities are amazing. You are going to get athletic opportunities at a lot of different schools, but there are just a few schools that give you an athletic environment like this. We have amazing facilities, excellent coaching staffs, weight training, nutritionists and all of the good stuff that comes along with it. Also, coaches are flexible because they want you to get involved and be well-rounded. They understand that you are a student-athlete, so they don’t want you to just focus on athletics. They really foster an environment in the athletic department for student-athletes to grow and they really help them focus on school and keep up-to-date on their homework.”
“Besides all that, the tradition is just so incredible. As I said before, if I am travelling across the country, far enough away from Kansas, people are asking about it. There is just a respect all around the country for this university and it really makes you feel proud when you are playing hard for a place like that.”