Devore named leader off the playing field

For all the bad stories that have been printed or broadcast in the past year surrounding the men’s athletics department and its academic scandal, now there comes a good one.
Finally, a story about a student-athlete who hasn’t been caught cheating or been kicked off a team for not going to class.
Baseball player Mark Devore is that story.
Devore’s biggest honor at the University didn’t take place on the baseball diamond, it has taken place all around campus.
Last month, the senior second baseman for the Gophers was awarded the President’s Student Leadership and Service Award, an honor given to students who show “exceptional leadership and service” to the University. It’s an award for good students and leaders, not good athletes.
It’s not an easy award to earn either. Approximately one-half of one percent of the student body is given the award.
It’s an honor Devore has been unwittingly earning since he arrived at Minnesota in 1995.
“When I came to the University, I wanted to gain a well-rounded life, and I think I’ve gotten a taste of that.” Devore said. “If I could tell my teammates one thing it’s to make the most out of your opportunities — you don’t come to the University just to play baseball.”
Gophers coach John Anderson calls Devore a model student, who has always put the best interest of the team before himself.
“Throughout his career, Mark has been a leader here,” Anderson said. “He is wiser than his years in age, and he’s able to see the big picture.”
While Devore’s leadership started on the baseball field with his teammates, it blossomed off the field, and affected all of Minnesota’s athletes.
He’s the president of the Student Advisory in men’s athletics, which helps athletes deal with college life both in and out of sports.
And while many students at the University are caught up in homework — or partying — Devore has used his college experiences as a frame for his future.
“30 years from now, baseball will not have gotten me anywhere in the real world,” Devore said. “My education will have.”
A management major, Devore understands the importance of what he accomplishes off the field.
That attitude is something that has made Anderson proud to have Devore on his roster.
“We constantly tell the players to take advantage the numerous opportunities this area has to offer,” Anderson said. “Mark is doing that while preparing himself for the next 50 years of his life.”
With the success of Devore beyond the playing field, Anderson said he hopes the public begins to take a different look at Minnesota’s athletic department.
“There are lots of good stories out there, I just don’t think we look for them. They don’t create readers or ratings,” Anderson said. “99 percent of the things that go on around here are positive. And I think the student-athletes who have done the right things over the past year have gotten a bad rap just because they’re athletes.
“Hopefully things like this will open people’s eyes to the fact 99 percent of the student-athletes are like Mark Devore.”
This weekend Devore and the Gophers aim to set themselves up for an award of their own: the Big Ten regular season championship.
With Indiana coming to town for four games this weekend, the Gophers sit just a half game back of Penn State, in second place with eight games to go.
The regular season’s on the line, and Minnesota can’t afford a slump if it’s going to win its first regular season Big Ten championship since 1987.
“If you ask every guy on the team, you want to get the ring,” Devore said. “That’s been the goal since the beginning of the year.”

John R. Carter covers baseball and welcomes comments at [email protected]