Geekie finds success on his own path


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If Noah Geekie’s baseball career is over now that his collegiate career has ended, he’s hoping it accomplished at least one thing.

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If Noah Geekie’s baseball career is over now that his collegiate career has ended, he’s hoping it accomplished at least one thing.

The 22-year-old younger brother of Seattle Kraken forward Morgan and older brother of Arizona Coyotes first-round Conor of the Winnipeg Ice has shown different paths exist for western Manitoba athletes.

“I don’t regret my decision to choose baseball for a second,” Geekie said. “That’s the one thing you can take away from this. Part of the reason I wanted to play baseball — don’t get me wrong, I love the sport — is I want to be able to prove to other kids around rural Manitoba and the rural parts of Canada that hockey may be the favourite sport in Canada and our area, but don’t be afraid to go off the path and choose the sport of baseball.

Noah Geekie of Strathclair finished up his college eligibility with the Emporia State University Hornets this spring, and after finishing up his student teaching in the fall to obtain his degree, is hoping to pursue opportunities in pro baseball next spring. (Photos courtesy of Emporia State)

“Obviously I’m biased. I think it’s one of the greatest sports on the planet, but I wanted to be able to take my own path and show other kids that it’s OK not to play hockey.”

The 22-year-old baseball player certainly had a choice to make when he was younger. He grew up playing hockey in the winter and baseball in the summer, and the former Yellowhead Chiefs star was selected 41st overall by the Calgary Hitmen in the 2015 Western Hockey League draft.

Instead, Geekie elected to play baseball, spending his Grade 12 year at the Okotoks Dawgs Academy in Alberta. He joined Team Manitoba at the Canada Summer Games in Winnipeg in 2017, winning a silver medal, and then was recruited for the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons at a two-year junior college, Barton Community College in Great Bend, Kansas.

Geekie wasn’t charged one of his four years of eligibility for the pandemic-abbreviated season that ended early in 2020, so he had three years instead of two when he made the jump to the Division II Emporia State University Hornets for the 2020-21 campaign.

“It was crazy fast,” Geekie said. “It was unbelievable. I absolutely loved my time there and it was gone like the snap of your fingers. Looking back on it, even just from freshman year starting at Barton to my senior year now, it flew by and I even got an extra year because of COVID, so that was a blessing in disguise.

“It was crazy how fast it went but I just tried to enjoy every moment of it. It was a great experience and I can’t thank all my supporters enough.”

Although it was a high level of baseball at both schools, Geekie said there was a difference between Barton, which plays in the National Junior College Athletic Association, and Emporia State, which is part of the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association.

He noted at Barton, each team likely had a couple of great pitchers and the top half of their lineups were very good hitters. When he made the jump to Division II, that changed.

“The depth is a big thing,” Geekie said. “Every pitcher you’re going to see, whether it’s first game, second game or third game starter or anybody out of the bullpen, they’re going to be up eights or low nines miles per hour (high 80s to low 90s) and they’re going to have really good stuff. All their off-speed is going to be A-plus, B-plus.

“That was definitely different and the hitters are really good from your leadoff hitter to your nine hole. Everybody is going to battle and everybody is super scrappy.”

Emporia is located southwest of Kansas City, more than 1,600 kilometres almost straight south of Strathclair. It’s 230 km west of Great Bend, where his college baseball journey began.

Noah Geekie has continued to improve during his college career, with his fastball hitting 90 miles an hour this season. (Courtesy of Emporia State)

Geekie said you could almost play baseball year-round in Kansas, where snow generally tends to melt pretty quickly, but it does get cold and windy in November, December and part of January.

He said it proved to be the perfect spot for him as he honed his game.

“I would definitely consider myself a late bloomer,” Geekie said. “From when I played at Midwest and Strathclair minor ball and even Team Manitoba at the Canada Games to now, looking back on it I was definitely a late bloomer. From my first year at Emporia to my third year, definitely.

“My first year at Emporia didn’t kind of go as I wanted to — it was a different environment, different teammates, a whole other level of baseball — and it was definitely a lot harder to adapt and get into. From my first year to my third year, I feel like I improved night and day.”

His numbers bear that out.

At the plate in 2021, Geekie hit .262 in 126 plate appearances in 40 games, with three home runs and 19 RBI. A year later, in 111 plate appearances in 41 games, he raised his average to .315 and hit one home run with 13 RBI.

He had 125 plate appearances in 46 games this spring, with a gaudy .360 batting average, four home runs and 25 RBI.

His slugging percentage increased from .389 to .405 to .560 during his three seasons at Emporia.

On the mound, Geekie pitched twice in 2021, posting a 45.00 earned-run average in a tiny sample.

He had a 5.04 era in 50.0 innings last season, and a 5.70 era in a career-high 77.1 innings this season.

His fastball continued to gain velocity as he got older, peaking at 90 miles per hour this season after being between 84 and 87 when he arrived at Emporia.

Noah Geekie

Geekie played in 42 games between the season kicking off on Feb. 3 and ending on April 30.

“This is the most I’ve thrown during my whole college career,” Geekie said. “I ended up throwing close to 80 innings as a starter and then I played in the outfield when I wasn’t pitching. I was definitely getting tired near the end.”

During the season, the team played four days a week and practised twice, with one day off. They also worked out in the mornings, with practices lasting from 2 to 5 p.m., and players often staying later to work on their swings or other mechanics.

On top of that, Geekie was also a student who had to take care of the books. He often headed to the library after practice.

“It’s definitely very hectic, but after doing it for five years, you get an idea of what you need to be doing,” Geekie said. “Time management is a skill I’ve gotten a lot better at over the years of being a college baseball player.”

The biggest change in his time in school was he realized he simply couldn’t do everything all the time. That meant at times he had to resist the urge to put in too much extra work on his game so he could take care of the other side of being a student-athlete.

“By my fifth year I had it figured out,” Geekie said. “You need to have some feel with it. You need to know what you have to improve on at the field. If your swing isn’t feeling good one day, then work on your hitting for a bit but don’t overdo it and don’t get too tired. Once it starts to feel good again, that’s it. Move on to your next thing.

“With school, you need to know how much time you’re going to have. I dedicated my evening to school, no matter how long it took me.”

He has no eligibility left for baseball now, but will return to Emporia in the fall to get his student teaching finished so that he can graduate with his bachelor degree in physical education. He wasn’t able to get it done in his final semester because of his busy baseball schedule, so he will graduate around Christmas.

Geekie is sad to see his college baseball career end.

His father Craig and brothers Morgan and Conor all played in the Western Hockey League, but Noah Geekie's path led in a different direction. He certainly has no regrets. (Courtesy of Emporia State)

“The way I feel right now, I don’t think I’m ready to let go,” Geekie said. “I’m heading back to Okotoks (on Thursday) and am going to play one more summer in the Western Canadian Baseball League with them and hopefully have some more success. In the fall when I go to do my student teaching, in my spare time I plan to keep training and working out.

“I’m going to try my absolute best to keep pursuing baseball and hopefully that can result in some professional opportunities, and if it doesn’t, I’ll have my degree to fall back on. College baseball was an absolute blast and I’m sad to put that in the rear-view mirror but I’m not ready to put the baseball thing away just yet.”

Minor baseball is a little different than minor hockey because there are so many independent professional leagues. His next step would either to be asked to attend camp by a team or to try out next spring because he’s too old for the Major League Baseball draft.

But that’s next spring’s problem, and there has been a lot to celebrate this spring for the Geekie family, including father Craig and mother Tobi, with Noah’s two brothers both in the playoffs.

Morgan, who is 24, had two goals and two assists in 13 games with the National Hockey League’s Kraken as they beat the Colorado Avalanche and then fell in seven games to the Dallas Stars.

Conor, meanwhile, has 17 points in 18 playoff games and is in the Western Hockey League final against the Seattle Thunderbirds, with his Ice trailing 3-1 in the best-of-seven series. Game 5 is tonight in Kent, Wash.

Noah has been in the stands for home playoff games for both.

“Being able to watch both of them play has been awesome,” Noah said. “It’s definitely something I’ve tried to prioritize this spring. I’m just making sure I’m keeping up with their games. It was super fun to watch them and where they went from their first year to now.

“… It’s awesome to see them both succeeding at the levels they’re succeeding at. Every time you watch them, you have to pinch yourself because it’s crazy how much success they’re having and at the level they’re having at it at.”

The brothers FaceTime each other virtually every day, and Noah chuckled that a lot of old stories come up. As an older brother of Conor, who just turned 19, he remains amazed by what his younger sibling has achieved.

“Everything Conor does, it just makes me think of the things he would do when he was nine or 10 years old,” Geekie said. “Were they stupid sometimes? Yes, but that’s the unreal memories we made together. It’s crazy to think about how much he’s grown and we’ve all grown.

Noah Geekie throws a pitch for Team Manitoba during the semifinal against Alberta during the 2017 Canada Summer Games at Shaw Park. (Winnipeg Free Press file)

“In my head, he’s always going to be that nine-year-old kid who screws around all the time.”

But Conor is part of the support network Noah has leaned on in the past five years, and the tall leftie is grateful for how they’ve helped him chart his own unique path.

Geekie said there really isn’t a word to describe how good his experiences have been.

“I can’t even begin to explain how grateful I am for the sport of baseball,” Geekie said. “The two paths I went down in Great Bend and Emporia, I can’t thank everyone enough, friends, family, for the support.

“It’s been an absolute whirlwind of a ride and I’ll never regret it.”


» Twitter: @PerryBergson

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