news-category: Athletics

GW’s Nate Anderson Motivated by ‘Can’t Be Beat’ Attitude

Perseverance, Patience and Hard Work Lead to Division I Opportunity

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—Prospective student-athletes can face discouragement, frustration, and uncertainty about their future at a school when their name is not listed on the Division I (DI) roster. Others may even consider transferring to another school; yet at Gardner-Webb, one option paves the way to success for student-athletes, just like Nate Anderson. 

Gardner-Webb is the only university in the country to offer a developmental program in NCAA Division I baseball. This option gives student-athletes the opportunity to practice diligently to strengthen their skills and gain experience at the college level. Through perseverance, they could work their way to a spot on the Runnin’ Bulldogs’ varsity roster.

For Head Baseball Coach Jim Chester, the players on the developmental roster provide depth to his program. “The program is great for a student-athlete who wants a first-class education, strong Christian culture and the opportunity to play DI baseball,” Chester emphasized. “This is an opportunity to get on the field as a freshman and gain the necessary repetitions and game experience for a player to develop at the highest level. Nate has outstanding work ethic and makes no excuses in his process to be an outstanding student-athlete here at Gardner-Webb.”

Anderson came to GWU in fall 2020, and by spring 2021 he was working hard to develop his game as a member of the developmental team. After the spring season concluded, he played in a college summer league to continue building his skills. In fall 2021, he achieved his goal, earning a spot on the varsity team roster for the Dawgs.

“I was relieved and super nervous,” Anderson reflected. His first scrimmage was “one of those days” where everything seemed to go wrong. He remembered being disheartened while heading to the dugout. “Then, Coach Chester looked at me and said with a smile, ‘Welcome to DI baseball,’ … that helped ease the tension,” Anderson recalled.  

A left-handed, natural outfielder, Anderson started playing baseball at a young age. He loved sports, but felt like basketball and football were out. “I’m an undersized guy,” he explained. “Baseball is that one sport where it doesn’t matter how big or small you are, you’ve still got to put the bat to the ball. The MVP in the MLB a few years ago was even shorter than me (5’6”). It’s all about the effort and perseverance.” 

I believed in myself; I had faith in God and knew there was a plan. For some people, it may come easier, and for others it may take time. It’s worth the effort.

Nate Anderson

Anderson had always wanted to play Division I college ball, yet his desires got interrupted by a pandemic. Because student-athletes received additional eligibility after COVID canceled their seasons, that meant there were fewer spots for newcomers. Then, Anderson met Chester and was impressed with the program at Gardner-Webb. Because Anderson was focused on attending a college with strong academics and athletics, where he could also grow in his faith, he accepted Chester’s developmental offer to join the GWU Developmental team.

“I believed in myself; I had faith in God and knew there was a plan,” Anderson emphasized. “For some people, it may come easier, and for others it may take time. It’s worth the effort.”

The Developmental program not only offers opportunities for rising athletes, it also provides avenues for students to remain at Gardner-Webb throughout their educational journey.

“The Nate Anderson story is a great one for college athletics and for student resilience,” praised GWU President William Downs. “Persistence pays off. Hard work, sweat, and sacrifice pay off.  Here’s a guy who dug in, who didn’t bail when life got challenging, and who fought his way up the ladder in a sport he loves. What an awesome example to emulate!”

Anderson’s advice to younger players in the same situation is to develop a “don’t get beat” mindset. “It doesn’t happen overnight. It can be a long, long, long process. A lot of work behind the scenes will show up later on.”

He continued, “You get tested physically and mentally. Coaches are my biggest supporters and they bring out the best in me. They test and push me in the best ways possible to be the best I can be (on and off the field).”

Even though he’s from metro Atlanta, Ga., he is at home at Gardner-Webb. “I like the smaller school feel and the tight-knit community,” offered the marketing major. “I love the people. Everybody’s so nice.”

In spring 2022, Anderson appeared in 25 games for the Runnin’ Bulldog. Further, he’s experienced success this summer playing for Kingsport (Tenn.) Axemen of the Appy League, funded by MLB and USA Baseball. The demanding schedule included 58 games in 65 days. The team took the West Division title, and won the championship. Anderson played in the all-star game.

Chester praised Anderson’s success, “Nate is an outstanding example of ‘you get out of it what you put into it.’ His level of play this summer and what he accomplished is not surprising from our end. We see all the hard work and effort he puts in on a daily basis.”

Gardner-Webb University is North Carolina’s recognized leader in private, Christian higher education. A Carnegie-Classified Doctoral/Professional University, GWU is home to six professional schools, 14 academic departments, more than 80 undergraduate and graduate majors, and a world-class faculty. Located on a beautiful 225-acre campus in Boiling Springs, N.C., Gardner-Webb prepares graduates to impact their chosen professions, equips them with the skills to advance the frontiers of knowledge, and inspires them to make a positive and lasting difference in the lives of others. Ignite your future at Gardner-Webb.edu.

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