Thousands of young men and women crossed the stage at UCSB graduation this past Spring, destined for jobs at law firms or engineering offices, some with their sights set on a Master’s degree.
Michael McAdoo has different aspirations.
“I want to protect the United States, that’s the dream job,” the former UCSB outfielder said, just weeks removed from graduating with a major in Political Science and minor in History after taking one final summer course.
McAdoo is one of those types of human beings that will wake up at 6:30 a.m. to get a workout in before work, priding himself on the discipline it takes to be a contributing force to the society around him.
“You don’t take on the path I’m heading down unless you are passionate and dedicated, and this is something I want to do,” McAdoo said.
The Bay Area native has spent the past 16 months preparing paperwork, taking tests and meeting with recruitment officers in order to enlist in the Navy’s officer training program — one that will involve a minimum five-year commitment once he is accepted, which could be as soon as mid-January.
But McAdoo — must like his attitude when sprinting after a fly ball — doesn’t plan to do the bare minimum, he has his eyes set on something much bigger.
“I want to command my own ship,” McAdoo said. “I don’t care how long it takes me to get there, that’s what I want to do.”
The journey to the Navy was born out of a disappointing moment for the De La Salle High School product, as his junior season at UCSB ended without being taken in the Major League Baseball draft.
It was in that moment that McAdoo took a step back and started to formulate his “Plan B.”
He took to the web, searching for jobs.
“I was kind of done playing baseball in that moment,” McAdoo said.
McAdoo happened upon the Navy program, intrigued as it crossed off a number of the items on his checklist:
- Travel the world? Check.
- See new things? Check.
- Experience new cultures? Check.
- An institutional commitment to discipline? Check.
So, quietly, McAdoo went about the process of working with a local recruiting office, completing what seemed like endless amounts of paperwork as he went through his senior season with the Gauchos.
But he made a conscious decision to keep his future path to himself — he didn’t want his teammates or coaching staff to feel like he wouldn’t give them 100 percent during the spring.
It’s simply not in McAdoo’s DNA to not go all-out, so he didn’t want to give anyone the opportunity to poke a hole in a persona that he takes tremendous pride in.
“I didn’t want to come across as ‘screw baseball,’ because that’s not how I operate,” McAdoo said.
About halfway through a record-breaking, 45-win season, he couldn’t keep the secret any longer, approaching the coaching staff to let them know about his next step.
“They weren’t surprised, they thought I might go into the (Navy) Seals, they said, ‘You’re always doing crazy things,’ “ McAdoo said. “I was always doing crazy rolls in the outfield and stuff, so this path wasn’t crazy to them.
“They were incredibly supportive.”
Baseball hasn’t wanted to let go of McAdoo, a tremendous athlete that was brought in on defense often for the Gauchos last season.
McAdoo recently was asked to play professionally in Germany, and also had the option of going to Arizona to try and find a free agent contract.
But, McAdoo is at peace that baseball is not his future.
“God has another path for me,” McAdoo said. “This isn’t a case of a late of talent, this is my choice, I think it’s time to end it. Baseball has taught me all about patience and hard work, and now I’m just going to go use that in a different field.”
McAdoo has had to use that hard work off the field over the past 14 months, putting a new focus on academics after being told that he’d need a 2.8 GPA in order to make the program.
Hovering just below that mark at 2.78, he posted a 3.0 GPA his entire senior year to make the grade, so to speak.
“Coming from high school, it wasn’t an easy ride getting to Santa Barbara,” McAdoo said. “That first year, I got hit in the face, it was like ‘What did I sign up for?’ All the kids here were AP students, the smartest people in their high school classes. It was difficult to compete with them. But, by my junior year, I had a good feel for the system and how to get good grades.”
The one area that McAdoo continually aced throughout his four years at UCSB was with his heart, hearing his voice all over the field, even when he was in the dugout, simply supporting his teammates or giving opponents a tough time.
McAdoo knows that only he can control his passion.
“Very few people are willing to sacrifice themselves,” McAdoo said. “This task is not easy. Not many people can do it. But I am passionate about doing this. I will do this.”