Baseball: Niles West’s Markoff mixes academics with baseball
Niles West's Max Markoff fields the ball and gets the out at first base during their game against Wheeling at Niles Wes. | Curtis Lehmkuhl~Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 22, 2012 7:57PM
Instead of mourning the end of their season, Niles West senior baseball players raced to join their classmates at Northwestern’s Welsh-Ryan Arena.
The Wolves seniors donned their gowns over their baseball uniforms and entered to a round of applause from the school’s impending graduates, who were waiting to walk into the arena and receive their diplomas.
For first baseman Max Markoff, who will play baseball at Lawrence University in the fall, that whirlwind night helped both create a lasting memory and ease the pain of the disappointing end to his final prep baseball season.
“We literally drove from Evanston, where we were playing our sectional game, to Welsh-Ryan Arena, where we graduated in our baseball uniforms — we just threw our gowns on,” Markoff said. “It was sort of a fun way to end the season, although it was disappointing to lose the way we did.”
Unique memories, like the Wolves finishing 26-11 and receiving his diploma while wearing dirty baseball pants and Nike gym shoes, will accompany Markoff as he heads north in the fall.
Lawrence, located in Appleton, Wis., is a school that first came onto Markoff’s radar near the end of last summer.
“Typically, I’ve always been a very good student, and I went to this showcase in Long Island, N.Y.,” Markoff said.
“There must have been 70 schools there — the Ivy League to schools like Lawrence, where they’re Division III schools — and the one thing they all have in common is they’re good academically. My goal when I decided I wanted to play baseball in college was that I wanted to find an academic college where I could also play baseball. Lawrence, from my understanding, fits that mold perfectly.”
Markoff is spending this summer staying busy, including working as a camp counselor at the Skokie Park District and trying to prepare for a higher level of baseball.
The Niles West graduate is taking a different approach, focusing on getting stronger in the weight room rather than playing an extended summer baseball schedule. Markoff has a particular advantage in trying to increase his muscle; his father used to be UIC’s strength coach.
“We have all of the machines in my house, so since my dad started letting me work out in seventh or eighth grade, I’ve always really attacked the weight room,” Markoff said. “My goal is to always be as strong as I can.”
While Markoff won’t play many baseball games this summer, he accepted the opportunity to play one last game alongside teammates Jason Meger and Erik Stojanoff. All three represented Niles West on the CSL Senior All-Star team.
“It was nice to see those two guys again,” Markoff said. “They’re two of my closest friends and I’ve known them for a bunch of years now. I’ve played with Erik since I was in seventh grade. I’ve known them for a while and I still talk to them all the time.
“We were all disappointed that the season ended the way it did, losing to Maine South on a slaughter, but we got over it.”