Scholar-Athlete Jacob Jefferies Talks to

In this interview, speaks with Tampa Bay Rays player Jacob Jefferies. Jacob played for the University of California - Davis baseball team before being drafted by Tampa Bay. He maintains a focus on learning as he makes his way through the minor leagues by taking classes and internships in the off-season. Keep reading for Jacob's insights on balancing education with life as a professional athlete.

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By Sarah Wright

baseball field Describe your educational background and goals.

Jacob Jefferies: My educational background is in sociology with an emphasis in law and society at UC Davis. My goal has always been to make it to the big leagues, but educationally I wanted to go to law school and become a sports agent. How did you transition from being a full-time student to a professional baseball player?

JJ: It was a really smooth transition. In college I was practically a full-time baseball player, devoting 30+ hours a week to practice and training while maintaining my academics. Now, from March to September all of my focus goes to baseball, and I worry about finishing school when the season is over. You spend your off-seasons attending school and completing internships. What made you decide to do that?

JJ: Education is very important to my family and me, so completing my degree has never really been a question at all. This off-season I wasn't able to make it to school because of a longer season due to playoffs. My resume was looking a little bare so I decided to look for some work experience. Is it common for professional athletes to spend their off-season time in this way? Would you recommend that others take similar steps? If so, why?

JJ: I can't speak for other sports, but I would say that a lot of pro baseball players that have minimal college credits to complete finish their schooling in the off-season. Although it is all of our goals to make it to the big leagues, it is a tough road and it's always good to have a backup plan. How do you think your off-season experience has helped you improve as a baseball player?

JJ: It has been a great experience in many ways, but the most prominent things I've learned are teamwork and getting on a consistent schedule. My most recent internship was with a company that holds a very strong team environment and it was great to be a part of that team. Being on a consistent schedule every day, working eight hours, and then doing my baseball and weight training was something that will help me throughout the season. It is always more comfortable to have a routine and be consistent in the things you do. What are your long-term career goals? Are you interested in the business side of professional sports?

JJ: Like I mentioned before, my goal after baseball was to become a sports agent. After being in the business, I don't think this is the path I would like to go down anymore. I think starting my own business would be fun, but for now I'm just going to enjoy the ride. Are there any pro athletes who you admire from a professional point of view? Any careers you'd like to emulate?

JJ: The first person that comes to mind is Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees. The way he holds himself both on and off the field is something to emulate. He is a role model to many players because he seems like such a great person (not to mention a future Hall of Famer). If there's anything else you'd like to add about your career and education, please feel free to do so.

JJ: Education is very important to me, and I hope that I can influence other ball players to finish their educational goals and pursue the life they would like after baseball.

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