Crush’s Verst chases two dreams in one summer
Article by Savanna Collins at Courtland Crush
CORTLAND, NY — Most baseball players who spend their summer on the diamond honing their skills and gaining exposure, one Cortland player had two uniforms: Crush orange and purple, and scrubs.
When he wasn’t on the mound and earning nightly honors for the team, pitcher Nate Verst spent his time at the Cortland Regional Medical Center as an intern. Verst is currently in his third year at Kentucky Wesleyan College, working towards a Bachelor’s degree in Health Science.
Fatefully, nursing was an epiphany that sprung from baseball, and the two have continued to be intertwined. Verst said he first discovered he might want to be a nurse last summer in Cortland. The team volunteered at the CRMC with the elderly, talking, visiting and doing exercises.
“From being around that with my grandparents I had the instinct to go forward and walk up to the first older gentleman and talking to him making small casual talk… talking about sports just getting to know their names, what they used to do for a living.
While some of his teammates were shy to approach the patients, for Verst it came naturally; there is no such thing as a stranger to him.
“Once the other guys started seeing how easy it was for me to talk to them they started opening up and talking to the people as well.”
Not only did the other players follow his lead, but also the hospital staff took notice.
“The nurses told me, ‘hey, it looks like you’ve done this a time or two…why don’t you think about being a nurse when you’re older?’ It kind of hit me and after that day, I went full throttle to becoming a nurse.”
Before, Verst had considered majoring in education and becoming a teacher or coach. But after that instance volunteering and the natural connections he made with patients, his course changed. Verst returned to Cortland for a second summer with a Crush, a rarity within the program.
This time as player and intern, Verst served eighty hours over the course of a month. He spent time in the medical/surgical unit, radiology, wound care and the emergency room. Shadowing nurses and taking vitals, he learned what the daily life of a nurse is like.
“I don’t think a lot of people realize how much effort, patience and time nursing involves. I feel like they’re sometimes unappreciated but that’s what I wanna do for a living — make people happy.”
Verst said it was a blessing in disguise playing for the Crush last summer because of how it led him to his career path and opportunities like ones with the CRMC.
The Crush’s relationship with the CRMC continued to expand as well, Verst helping organize events at the hospital like baseball trivia with the team and even incorporating the daycare across the street to bring generations together. The Crush honored the sponsor at one of the home games, with patients from the nursing home that many players had come to know well in attendance.
Working at a hospital like the CRMC is a dream of Verst’s, but not his only one.
“I’ve always had that dream of becoming a professional baseball player, but if there’s a different calling for me then I know I’ll be able to fall back on nursing because I love that just as much as I do baseball,” he said.
Verst was a go-to pitcher for the Crush in the 2015 season, after finishing his freshman year at Kentucky Wesleyan. He played in 16 games, pitching 38 innings and finishing with a 1.54 ERA. He continued to develop this past summer, earning honors such as the pitcher of the week, the “Extra Mile Award” for the Crush and making the New York Collegiate Baseball League All-Star team again.
He said he plans to continue to chase competing at a higher and higher level, as the ties between his two careers grow stronger.
“Getting into the nursing field you have to compete just as much; it’s not a game but you have to have the same kind of mindset,” he said. “It’s kind of like a baseball field — you’re going to do whatever it takes to win a game and you’re going to do whatever it takes to help a patient.”
You can watch the Crush’s visit with the CRMC and daycare here.