Olympia (Orlando, Fla.) junior Nick Gordon may have been born into a talented baseball bloodline — he’s the son of former MLB All-Star pitcher Tom ‘Flash’ Gordon, and his older brother, Dee, is a shortstop in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization — but his impressive stats stem from immeasurable dedication as he’s worked his way to the top.
The Florida State commit, a shortstop and right-handed pitcher, said he takes no breaks. When he’s not playing, he’s doing sprints, or performing band exercises, or hitting the pool to strengthen his shoulder, or icing his muscles, or…well, you get the picture.
Gordon’s ceaseless efforts paid off this past season, when he had 44 strikeouts in 35.2 innings pitched, batted .505 and had two home runs and 30 RBI. To top it off, he was named Gatorade Florida Baseball Player of the Year.
Ultimate Athlete-worthy? We thought so, so Gordon enters the spotlight as part of our Ultimate Athlete profile series.
For the next eight months, we’re spotlightingcases deemed Ultimate Athlete-worthy as part of an ongoing, interactive discussion about what sport supersedes the rest. Check in for athlete profiles, smack talk, training videos and more, culminating with the crowning of the Ultimate Athlete.
When Gordon wasn’t doing all things baseball, we caught up with him to discuss, well, all things baseball.
What was it like to grow up as the son of a former MLB All-Star?
Gordon: Being around the baseball field every day was pretty cool, and to have the opportunity to be around other MLB players and watch my dad was a blessing.
I recall the ’08 World Series. I was around 12. It had a big influence. I knew I was good at baseball, and I knew I got it from my dad. I [realized] I wanted to follow in my father’s footsteps.
I know it’s going to take a lot of hard work, and it’s really pushed me to be where I am today.
As a freshman, you started at second base on the varsity team. What was the transition like from junior high to suddenly playing with older, bigger guys?
Gordon: It was a lot of pressure. I was always told that high school ball was really tough and the boys are more mature and bigger. At first, I was nervous going into that.
I had to step up and hold my own. As I got going and got used to my teammates and used to the field of high school ball, I started to feel my position and got comfortable, and everything fell into place. Gradually, that pressure started to fade.
What advice from your dad helped you with that transition and with your overall athletic development?
Gordon: He told me don’t let things happen to you before you make things happen. You have to be physically and mentally mature. He’s basically saying don’t go onto the field and play scared or be nervous. Be confident, aggressive and go out there to get the job done. It’s been my go-to saying I think about before I play.
What about in terms of skill advice?
Gordon: He’s always telling me to have active feet — never stop my feet from moving. That keeps me anticipating and ready for every play.
How have you changed since freshman season?
Gordon: I’ve become a better defensive player, and I’m way more aggressive at the plate. Becoming a team player and a leader, I’ve been a lot better at that the past couple of years — next year, I expect to lead my team to a state championship.
Share some of the training that will help get you there.
Gordon: I do core and agility work twice a week. I do a lot of arm exercises with my dad. I perform exercises with a weighted ball. I get the most out of band work. It loosens me up before and after games. It all helps to strengthen my shoulder. I swim twice a week year-round, when it’s not too cold outside.
In the weight room, what’s a lift you find challenging but most beneficial?
Gordon: Squatting. It gives me explosive power I need in my legs. Hitting-wise, it helps me stand on my back leg and balance.
As a former football player, compare how you trained for that sport with how you train for baseball. Which sport’s training do you consider more intense?
Gordon: Baseball. It’s more of a mental game, not so much being able to be faster than everybody, catch better or throw further. Baseball is about outthinking the other player and what you’re going to do in a certain situation.
Why might baseball supersede other sports as being toughest on the mind and body?
Gordon: With football, you get breaks and go to camps and same for basketball. Since I live in Florida, I play year-round. There are no days off — I go hard 24/7.