For many athletes, being able to play one sport at the Division I level would be a dream come true. For Jono Grayson, one wasn’t enough. Grayson currently plays for the Cal Poly baseball team after four years of competing for the Mustangs in football.
Grayson came to Cal Poly in 2006 from Marin Catholic High School where he starred as both a football and baseball player. Grayson is small in stature at only 5-foot-7, but he said his speed and quickness are his biggest weapons on both fields. He is currently majoring in ethnic studies and is an outfielder on the baseball team. He has two years of eligibility remaining in baseball.
While still waiting for his opportunities in baseball, Grayson was a consistent contributor to the Cal Poly football team. He finished his career for the Mustangs rushing for 987 yards and eight touchdowns, while also catching 17 passes for 246 yards and two scores. Grayson said football provided plenty of fun memories for him, and he looks to continue his development as a baseball player.
Coming into college, Grayson always had his sights on playing both football and baseball. However, things did not work out his first couple of years due to scheduling conflicts and time management. He still possessed a desire to play baseball, which ultimately led him back to the sport.
“After this past football season, I called up my dad and talked with him about (playing baseball),” Grayson said. “It seemed like a good idea because of my love for the game.”
He said the main difference between the two sports is the physicality of football, but each sport requires a strong mental focus.
“There is so much detail that goes into both sports,” Grayson said. “Whether it’s running a route or throwing in the outfield, there are so many little details which lead to success.”
Head baseball coach Larry Lee said he likes his baseball players to have some sort of football background because it gives them a better understanding of discipline and self-sacrifice. Also, he said Grayson shows good body awareness on the field and has the tools to develop into a solid baseball player in the future.
Junior pitcher Steven Fischback said Grayson’s biggest asset is his speed since the Mustangs do not have a player on the team as fast as him. Also, he said Grayson has gelled well with the rest of the team, despite joining late, following the football season.
“He’s definitely a funny guy,” Fischback said. “He’s someone you can joke around with, and he’s always smiling.”
Fischback said it’s amazing how Grayson has been able to find the time to work on both sports and excel. He said Grayson constantly works on his hitting or other aspects of his game before and after practice.
Lee said Grayson knows how to compete and he enjoys coming out to play the game every day. He said he looks for that in any athlete.
“You can tell that he’s a competitor because when he has an at-bat in a game situation, his natural instincts take over,” Lee said. “That’s pretty rare, since usually it’s the opposite where you can get them dialed in on the practice field, but when it comes to the game, their mind is too cluttered and they don’t perform well.”
Grayson said football helped him to deal with being in the spotlight with thousands of fans watching. He said it has helped him remain more relaxed under pressure situations.
“I think football has definitely helped in calming my nerves down and dialing myself into game situations,” Grayson said. “After playing in front of 85,000 fans at Wisconsin and 40,000 at San Diego State, it helps me to focus in and remain in the moment.”
Throughout his career in each sport, Grayson said the support of his family has meant the most to him. He said the coolest thing is having his family travel to different places to watch him compete. He said he wants to make them proud every time they come out.
“They are my backbone,” Grayson said. “I wouldn’t be at Cal Poly if it wasn’t for them. Their support is the best thing for me.”
Grayson said the two sports have allowed him to meet a variety of people along the way, and he is grateful for those relationships.
“It’s just cool to see the different characters on each team,” Grayson said. “Baseball is a more relaxed pace while football is a lot of intensity. It’s cool being able to meet so many people and build friendships.”