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Orgill is UW's Man of Steel
Release: 06/21/1999
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by Stacy Nishihara

Frustration, pain, and disappointment are part of life. Every single one of us will experience these feelings in our lifetime, and some more than others. But the true judge of the strength of our character is how we handle ourselves when faced with these adversities.

If that's the case, senior baseball player Pete Orgill must be made of steel.

Orgill, a catcher, entered his freshman year at the UW with high hopes for the future after a promising high school career. He was the captain of Yakima's Davis High School's baseball, football, and basketball teams, earning a total of nine letters. He was all-state in baseball, named athlete of the year, and an honor roll student. However, Orgill's freshman year consisted of playing first baseman and designated hitter while waiting to undergo shoulder surgery after the season.

"The doctors tell me I have abnormally loose shoulder joints," explains Orgill. "My shoulder slightly pops out of socket. I came into the fall of my freshman year nursing my elbow a little bit and so by favoring it I hurt my shoulder. The summer after my freshman year I had surgery where they tightened it up and I went into rehab, but it still wasn't one hundred percent."

Orgill experienced problems with his shoulder throughout his sophomore season. He batted a career low .239 average while playing DH. But, over the summer Orgills shoulder became better with work and he played summer ball for the Yakima Chiefs.

The 6-foot-3, 225-pound Orgill finally had a chance to shine his junior year with a healthy shoulder. Orgill started 13 games behind the plate and batted a career-high .309 with eight home runs. With 16 career homers, he already ranks ninth (tied) on the UW career list.

"I got my shoulder healthy and had a pretty good junior year," recalls Orgill. "But, towards the end of the year though it started to loosen up again. It was determined that I would need another surgery. The doctors decided to try a new technology called a heat-shrink. Essentially what they did was to go in and use a microwave-like device on a pin to shrink my shoulder socket."

Going through two surgeries within two years would be enough to make anyone quit. It was frustrating for Orgill to go through the procedure of rehab all over again. But Orgills love of baseball and support from his family and the Husky coaching staff pulled him through.

"If I would have gone to any other school," says Orgill. "I would probably have been done with baseball a long time ago. The coaching staff here really stuck with me. I was feeling so frustrated with all the surgeries and rehab. But my catching coach Joe Ross and last years trainer, Kim Nye, especially helped to push me through with words of encouragement. At other schools, they probably would have cut me from the team after my first arm surgery and I'd be working at McDonald's right now."

Orgills family was another factor that helped him with the frustrations of all the surgeries. Besides being close-knit, athleticism runs deep in the family. Orgills father, Peter, was a three-sport athlete who played college ball at Yakima Valley CC and Central Washington. He is the varsity baseball coach at Davis High, where he coached Pete for three years. Orgills sister, Katie, lettered twelve times in high school and is currently playing volleyball at Central.

"My dad has been my coach since little league," says Orgill. "Both him and my mom are so supportive, they try to make every game they can, even the ones on the road. My dad helped me a lot with baseball, but he didn't push me. A lot of people might think that with him being a high school coach he made me play, but it's not like that. He didn't care if I played or not. To him it's a bonus that I'm still playing. My parents are the most motivational people in my life.

In his final season at Washington, Orgill just wants to concentrate on having a good year. With his shoulder healthy, he may well be the starting catcher, and he has a good premonition about the upcoming season.

"This year's team is going to be fineeven though we lost a lot of players last year," Orgill says. "The players we lost were so good that no one got to see the backup players. The backup players that are starting this year would have been starting on any other team in the nation last year. This year they'll get a chance to shine. Plus, our pitching staff is probably going to be the best the school has ever had. We expect to go to Omaha this year."

Since entering the UW, Orgill has experienced many different emotions, from elation to heartbreak. But these situations have only made him stronger and more mature. He has seen how precarious the future can be and he has learned how valuable family is, as well as a good education.

"Having two surgeries, you realize that baseball could end at any time. It's only one throw away from all being over," he says. "I hope to play pro ball someday. My immediate goal is to be able to throw and have a good senior year. Whatever happens after that, like getting to play pro, is a bonus.

"I've learned a lot since I hurt my arm," he continues. "Coming in as a freshman, my thoughts were consumed with baseball rather than school, but I quickly realized that I better start thinking more about my education. I want baseball to be in my future, but it depends on my arm."

The course of Orgills future remains undetermined, but the strength of his character will enable him to excel on any path.

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