Family ties push Vavra to succeed

The freshman ranks third on the team in batting average at .390 in 100 at-bats.

Freshman infielder Terrin Vavra runs past third base at Siebert Field, where the Gophers faced the University of Iowa on April 1.

Niti Gupta, Daily File Photo

Freshman infielder Terrin Vavra runs past third base at Siebert Field, where the Gophers faced the University of Iowa on April 1.

Kaitlin Merkel

Gophers freshman shortstop Terrin Vavra has always played facing high expectations. 
His father, Joe, serves as the Minnesota Twins bench coach, while his two older brothers, Tanner and Trey, have both played in the Twins’ minor league system. 
“It’s a lot of pressure, but I think that pressure is something that’s really kind of been with me my whole life, and it’s kind of defined me as a baseball player and as a person,” Vavra said. “There’s a lot of pressure as far as being successful and following in their footsteps, but that pressure is something that I kind of embrace.”
Gophers head coach John Anderson said that pressure has helped transform Vavra into a well-rounded baseball player, even as a freshman.
Vavra is batting .390 after 100 at-bats this season, the third-highest mark on the team. 
He is also fourth in on-base percentage and fourth in slugging percentage.
He’s started 23 games this season, the most of any Minnesota freshman.
“He comes from a baseball family and background, so he’s further along in terms of his baseball IQ, his understanding of the game,” Anderson said on March 10. “He’s been trained by a professional [in his father] … so he plays relaxed. He plays with great confidence. He’s very fundamentally sound in all phases of the game.”
Vavra credited his experience of growing up with baseball and his summer spent playing for the Duluth Huskies in the Northwoods league as keys in his transition to college.
He hit his first career home run in the Gophers’ victory over Northern Illinois on April 6.
Vavra and his fellow freshmen’s mentalities at the plate have also impressed their veteran teammates, including senior outfielder Dan Motl.
“They don’t act like freshmen up at the plate,” Motl said. “I remember when I was young, I’d get in the box and I’d have so many thoughts going through my head. … These guys are just mature.”
Anderson said it was easy to recruit Vavra because his hometown, Menomonie, Wis., is close to campus and his family has Minnesota connections.
“Being close to home is something that’s always been important to me, and family is definitely important to me, too,” Vavra said. “So being close to them and being able to go home whenever I need to is something that I really was interested in doing.”
Even when the Vavra family is far from home, they still find ways to support their youngest member. 
Vavra said when his father and brothers were at spring training with the Twins in Fort Myers, Fla., this year, they watched his games as much as possible despite their busy schedules.
“Obviously, with my brothers playing every day, it’s kind of tough,” Vavra said. “But I know that my dad, even during the Twins’ spring training games, [he’d] have my game up on the computer and whenever he [could], get a check at it.”
The oldest Vavra brother, Tanner, left the Twins organization at the end of March, while Trey is currently playing with the Fort Myers Miracle, the Twins’ Class A Advanced affiliate.
One look at their Twitter accounts makes it’s clear they’re the youngest Vavra’s biggest fans. Both often retweet Vavra’s stats and highlights from Gophers games.
“My brothers were very helpful as far as the transition,” Terrin Vavra said. “It’s good to know that they’re always watching. And they’re always supporting me no matter what, so that’s pretty cool.”