In 2009, Colton Young helped lead the Notre Dame Bulldogs to the MSHSAA Baseball State Championship, posting a career record of 22-1 during his time at ND.
Now more than a decade after he graduated, Colton is joining a couple of his former teammates on another prestigious squad: the 2021 Class of Notre Dame Athletics Hall of Fame.
“It was an honor,” he said of receiving the news. “Obviously Notre Dame has a long line of great athletes and sports teams to come through so to be included and recognized for some of the achievements we had as a team and myself, it was definitely a great honor to be a part of that special family.”
In 2008, Colton’s sophomore season, the Bulldogs finished third at state, but with plenty of players returning, they had their sights set on a state title.
“We had a pretty special team, a lot of special guys on there,” he said. “The relationships that I built on that team, outside of all the accomplishments and winning state – a lot of those guys I’m still very close with today and I’m glad I was able to come to Notre Dame and build those relationships with people. Outside of the athletic accomplishments, there’s a lot of good people on that team and a lot of lifelong friends that I made.”
Colton said the seniors who played when he was a sophomore set the tone for what the team could achieve. “I can’t say it was all me,” he said. “We had a lot of good players. Our team was loaded from top to bottom. Even the bench probably could have started just about everywhere else. There was a lot of special talent on those teams. Sophomore year, we had (Mark) Himmelberg, (Blake) Gaddis, all those upperclassmen that were pretty talented as well. The supporting cast around me was pretty special.”
But getting to Notre Dame was a task in itself for Colton as he hailed from Sikeston.
Colton’s cousin, Austin Gelsheimer, was a few years older and attended Notre Dame, which put in motion his opportunity to attend the school.
“It wasn’t necessarily always the plan,” he said of ND. “He (Gelsheimer) kind of planted that bug in my ear a little bit before. Obviously Notre Dame, athletic–wise, academic-wise, there’s a little higher standard there and my parents felt it was probably the best option for me.”
His cousin wasn’t the only one who made the transition easier, as many of his Notre Dame teammates were also his teammates during travel baseball.
“They made it an easy transition for me to make that choice. Looking back, there really wasn’t another option,” he said. “It was the best thing possible for me.”
When the time finally came to attend Notre Dame, Colton said the faculty and staff were quick to offer assistance when needed as well.
“You’re obviously a little apprehensive about how you’re going to be accepted, especially coming from Sikeston,” he said. “I can remember coming to the Freshman Lock-In and one of the first things I can remember, Coach (Tim) Garner came up to me on the soccer field and introduced himself. If there’s anything I ever needed or had any questions, let him know. Everyone there would do whatever they can to make my transition easier.”
After making the daily drive from Sikeston to Cape Girardeau for years, Colton said he was looking forward to his next challenge of playing baseball in college.
“I always had aspirations of playing at the next level,” he said. “Went to a bunch of different showcases, but that was always a dream of mine to play at the Division I level after high school.”
Tennessee-Martin gave Colton that chance and he decided to be a Skyhawk at the next level.
Now, Colton lives in Fort Smith, Arkansas, but he is anticipating a move back to the area in a couple of years.
“(I am) looking forward to coming back and being closer to home,” he said, “being able to come and hopefully be a part of the Notre Dame activities in the future.”