Galda overcomes adversity, inks with Community College of Baltimore County Catonsville, Maryland Cardinals

Hernando High senior inks with Community College of Baltimore County Catonsville, Maryland Cardinals. He is flanked by HHS soccer coach Jonathan Stone and assistant principal Lorenzo Fields.

BASEBALL

Ex-HCA Lion played

last three seasons at

Hernando High School

By TONY CASTRO

HernandoSport.com

With every prep student/athlete there are twists and turns along one’s career path.

Such is the case with Brooksville’s Austin Emil Galda.

Austin Galda

Despite being the starting catcher – as an eighth- and ninth-grader – along the Emerson Road campus of Hernando Christian Academy, the current 6-foot, 170-pounder yearned for more.

He transferred to Hernando High in hopes of elevating his baseball prospects.

Hernando Christian Academy Lions

After accumulating 30 hits in 99 at-bats (.303) with the Class 2A, District 5 Lions, he opted to compete for a spot with the county’s oldest and most established baseball program at Emerson Field at HHS.

Over the next three seasons, however, Galda didn’t exactly tear the cover off the ball.

He amassed 22 hits in 92 at-bats (.239).

He was part of the situational platoon system behind the dish for the Purple and Gold.

As a sophomore and a junior, his teams did finish as district runners-ups, but eventually were ousted by perennial private school juggernaut – Bishop Moore Catholic of Orlando.

This season, the top-seeded Leopards were ambushed in the 5A-7 semifinals by fourth-seeded Hudson-Fivay, 5-1.

Despite his lack of perceived playing time, rather than pout and take out his frustrations with the other members of his vast team, the 17-year-old made a grown-up decision.

At a cross road, he reasoned he would either quit the team – which he saw as the coward’s way out – or simply strive to work harder.

He chose the later path.

The brown-tressed and hazel-eyed Galda opted to the first player to arrive for the junior varsity practice from 3=5 p.m. – to take extra cuts and help encourage the younger Leopards.

He turned out to be the last to leave the varsity practice from 5-7 p.m.

To help with his fragile mental state, he joined the Hernando High boys soccer and swim teams.

Though he had never played soccer, he ended up playing for skipper Jonathan Stone for two varsity seasons.

Again, he wasn’t a shiny penny in terms of athletic ability on the pitch. But he managed to score nine goals and aid the cause with six assists.

The running and fitness involved in playing futbol at the varsity level permeated in Galda’s thought process.

Though he wasn’t the ‘best’ player on the pitch, he believed playing soccer helped prepare him for the demands of playing catcher or even the outfield for HHS.

In the pool as a sophomore and junior, he competed in the 50-, 100- and 200-meter freestyle and 200-meter IM.

His DNA might have been a deciding factor. His mother, Buffy Galda, was a state diving placer in Florida.

She told him that he was “too tall” to be a diver locally. So she encouraged him to join the swim program.

By season’s end, Galda had visited four different campuses before making up his mind to ink with Community College of Baltimore County Catonsville, Maryland Cardinals.

In late July when he reports to campus some 14-plus hours and 900 miles from Brooksville, he’ll begin his collegiate career in baseball and soccer.

Galda 101

Austin, who doesn’t turn 18 until September, was raised as an only child by Buffy. His mother was born and raised in Clearwater.

Austin’s stepfather is David Bland, a 1986 HHS graduate.

The Galda’s have called Brooksville home since Austin could remember walking.

Retracing his athletic roots, he recalls playing T-Ball at 4 years old at Tom Varn Park.

He remembers playing Dixie Baseball with Ridge Manor until fifth grade. Even when he was younger, he played multiple positions.

Next came a two-year stint in playing lacrosse before playing tackle football. He alternated mostly between tight end and corner back

He attended HCA until his freshman year concluded.

As a sixth-grader, he played varsity football and baseball. As a seventh-grader, he played football and basketball.

A year later, he juggled football, basketball and baseball,

As a ninth-grader, he stuck with football and baseball.

Since he matriculated to the Bell Avenue campus of HHS, he’s lettered in soccer, swimming and baseball.

Outside of athletics, Galda was a member of the PIT (peer inclusion team) crew.

Always a solid student, he’ll graduate Saturday in Brooksville with a 3.5 unweighted and 3.8 weighted grade point average.

In college, he plans on studying nursing.

He says his passion is to help the less fortunate people, particularly the mentally handicapped.

Why the Cardinals?

Catonsville Cardinals

Though he was born in Brooksville and raised in Sunshine State, Galda turned down a couple offers to play in state.

“I decided early on that I wanted to go out of state,” he said.

He turned down an offer to play NAIA baseball with Southwestern Assemblies of God University near Dallas and Johnson University in Kissimmee.

He agonized and “prayed a lot” over whether to attend CCBC or enroll at Houghton College.

According to Galda, “The facilities at Houghton were first-class. It ultimately boiled down to my major. If I wanted to go pre-med, I would’ve gone to Houghton.

“I opted to study nursing at Cantonsville.”

Across his top two choices, he was greeted warmly on both campuses.

Austin Galda

“At Houghton and Cantonsville, when I meet the guys on team we were like brothers in Christ. Whichever school I chose, my mom supported my decision whole heartedly.”

On what his future will hold once he arrives at Cantonsville, “The schedule is a little tricky,” he noted. “College soccer is played in the fall, so I’m jumping into it quickly. During the fall, the baseball team has night workouts.

“There’re looking at me at center back in soccer and catcher or one of the corner infield spots in baseball,” he added. “We play on a all-turf soccer field. I’ll be playing for a new soccer coach. He was an assistant coach and the guy who recruited me. I’m glad he got the head coaching job.”

“… The baseball coach is from UCF. He’s bringing in 7-9 players from Florida. Coach said he was really impressed with my defense behind the plate.”

Springstead High’s Zach Krafick and Hernando High’s Austin Galda vie for a header. Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO

The transition: HCA to HHS

In terms of proximity, HCA seems down the street from Hernando High.

But in reality, there was a world of difference.

“I did miss the smaller class sizes at HCA,” said Galda. “Anytime, I had a problem, I could just see my coach or the athletic director. It was different at Hernando. I wish I had the guidance I had at HCA. I do regret that.”

In terms of sports, “The ball was the same at both campuses. Only the game speed was different,” explained Galda. “I realized that if I was going to give myself a chance I couldn’t make excuses and just continued to work hard. I hit the weight room, I came early to practice, I stayed late. I was usually the last guy to leave.”

As far as soccer, “I wouldn’t have played if it wasn’t for Coach Stone. I’ll admit it was a grind. But there was nothing guaranteed to me, so I just kept working at it. In essence, I knew what I had to do and trusted God to get me through it. He knows what’s best for me.”

On what memory stood out, Galda will never forget the HHS baseball team’s road trip to Key West and back.

“The music was blaring all the way there. Then we had 27 guys stay in one room. It was a tremendous bonding experience – not just for me – but for all the guys. That trip was so long, on the way home, everybody just slept.”

On what he took away from his baseball experience at Emerson Field, “I was mentally tested,” explained Galda. “I could’ve given up or whined and complained, but that wouldn’t have done any good. I chose to work harder.”

Hernando High’s Austin Galda lines a hit against Fivay. Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO

The road ahead

Galda believes he’s ready for the next chapter of his life.

“I give credit to my mother for raising me so well,” beamed Galda. “I learned a lot of things at an early age. I had to do a lot of things by myself. I credit my mom for teaching me about responsibility.”

On Galda’s biggest obstacle, he didn’t hesitate.

“It’s got to be the cold weather,” he shrugged. “It won’t be easy. I was born and raised in Florida. I’m used to 93 degrees. I’m not used to 28 degrees. That’ll be a big jump.”

On how important his academics are, “My academics are the most important thing,” stressed Galda. “Ever since I was small, I’ve always wanted to help people. The PIT crew really helped me with that. To me, there’s nothing more important than my grades. Ultimately, I want to be a nurse practitioner.”

Like all college-bound athletes, time management will be critical.

“When I step on campus, I have to have my priorities in order,” noted Galda. “I could be there as early as the last week of July. Practice starts the first week of August.”

NCT’s Thomas DiFrank is closely checked by Hernando’s Austin Galda. Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO

Lasting legacy

Going forward, Galda admitted, “I’d like to be remembered as the guy who didn’t have the most impressive numbers, but was always on time in practice and was always supportive.

“…A guy who always worked hard even though statistically-speaking I didn’t stand out. I just wanted to be a leader to the younger players.”

By the Numbers: Austin Galda (2015-19)

– Compiled by TONY CASTRO

BASEBALL

 

YEAR

 

YR

 

GP

 

AB

 

R

 

H

 

2B

 

3B

 

HR

 

RBI

 

.AVG

2015 HCA

8

19

54

26

18

2

1

0

17

.333

2016 HCA

9

17

45

15

12

3

0

0

6

.267

2017 HHS

10

1

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

.000

2018 HHS

11

25

50

7

10

1

0

0

10

.200

2019 HHS

12

23

41

13

9

2

0

0

6

.220

 

TOTALS

 

5

 

85

 

191

 

61

 

49

 

8

 

1

 

0

 

39

 

.257

SOCCER

 

YEAR

 

YR

 

G

 

A

 

TP

2017-18

11

2

4

8

2018-19

12

7

2

16

 

TOTALS

 

9

 

6

 

24

 

 

 

 

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