By Michael Sullivan
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
When senior Kyle Thebeau came to Texas A&M as a freshman in 2006, the baseball program was undergoing many changes.
The Aggies were bringing in new head coach Rob Childress to try and turn around a baseball program that had lost itself in the Big 12.
“When I first got here there were a lot of question marks because we had a new coaching staff,” Thebeau said. “We had a lot of guys who couldn’t do things. We had problems finding guys to fill shoes and in our freshman year.”
In 2006, the Aggies encountered their first losing season since 2000, winning just six games in the Big 12 and finished dead last in the conference. Despite the hardships faced by the team, Thebeau looks back on his freshman year as a stepping stone to the successful seasons to come.
“[My freshman year] was a blessing in disguise for guys like me and Kyle Colligan who got to play a lot our freshman year, but it was a pretty unproductive year as a team,” Thebeau said. “I think those experience helped us to bounce back and help us do what we did our sophomore and junior year as a team.”
As a freshman Thebeau appeared in 17 games both as a starter and reliever posting a record of 3-6 with a 4.70 ERA. Following that year, Thebeau played summer ball with the Beatrice Bruins and helped lead the team to the NBC World Series going 7-1, striking out 77 batters in 77 innings, while posting a 1.27 ERA.
During his sophomore and junior seasons with A&M, the Aggies began to hit their stride as a team as the squad won the Big 12 Championship in 2007 and the Big 12 regular season title in 2008.
“As a team, winning the Big 12 was very special especially because I had been on the last place team during my freshman year,” Thebeau recalled. “Seeing how hard it was to win a game in the Big 12 my freshman year to winning the Big 12 in three years I thought was pretty special.”
Also in 2008, Thebeau contributed greatly out of the bullpen becoming a main reliever and set-up guy for closer Travis Starling. Thebeau set A&M single-season records by appearing in 33 games in which he held opposing hitters to a .206 batting average and posted an ERA of 2.12. With the numbers, Thebeau was selected for postseason honors by the Waco Tribune, and was named the Pat Olsen Outstanding Pitcher of the Year by his teammates.
With all the accolades Thebeau has received on the field, what is often overlooked is his hard work and dedication in the classroom. Thebeau is a student in the petroleum engineering department at Texas A&M, which ranks No. 1 for undergraduate and No. 2 for graduate by US News and World Report. During his first three seasons at A&M, Thebeau was named a Verizon Scholar-Athlete all three seasons. In 2007 and 2008 he was also named to the Academic All-Big 12 First Team.
“I have had some success in my major,” Thebeau said. “My in major GPA is around a 3.8, but my overall GPA is around a 3.5. There have been a lot of sacrifices that have been made [to maintain my GPA].”
As an athlete that has not had a single weekend off from February to May for the last four years, Thebeau has had to learn the values of time management and accountability. Despite all of the hard work and struggles, Thebeau has endured and he feels that it will be beneficial no matter his future career choice.
“Two areas that I have made great strides are time management and accountability since I have been here,” Thebeau said. “I don’t think I would have been the student that I am if I hadn’t of played baseball. It has been one of those things were when you get busier you become more efficient.”
With just over a month left in his baseball career with the Aggies, Thebeau is looking to make the most of every opportunity. In his final games, he would like nothing more than to cap off his four years with a visit to Omaha, Neb., for a chance to compete for a National Championship.
“As it is getting closer to the end I realize it is like I don’t have that many games left and I really need to make the most of them,” Thebeau said. “We are really expecting to be playing in Omaha for a National Championship at the end of this year. It would be awesome to get there my senior year.”