In his five-year career, the speedy outfielder helped lead the Statesmen to three consecutive NCAA Division III South Region appearances with a national runner-up finish in the 2012 Division II World Series. His 72 career stolen bases puts him second on the team’s all-time career steals list, and he finished up with a .341 career batting average and committed just three errors in the field for a .991 career fielding percentage.
Off the field, Chovanec was even better in the classroom as he had a 3.75 grade-point average. He has done several things in the community such as yard work and landscaping at the Women’s Resource Center, being active with the Pearman Reading Program and being active with the Cleveland Downtown Cleanup.
In Pensacola, Fla. in the last Thursday of June, Chovanec enjoyed the fruits of his labor as he received the Gulf South Conference Commissioner’s Trophy on the men’s side, which is the highest honor given to a student-athlete in the conference. Chovanec was 13th athlete in DSU history to win it. The 13 Commissioner’s Trophies picked up by DSU are the most by a school in the GSC.
The honor came as kind of a surprise to Chovanec.
The 23-year-old almost didn’t even make the trip to Florida.
“I wasn’t actually planning on going to the awards ceremony at first, because we had a family vacation set up,” Chovanec said. “I didn’t know if I was going to be able to return. Everyone on staff at Delta State was like this was a huge honor. You have a good chance of winning the whole thing, and it’s such a big honor just to the event.
“I flew up there for one day and flew back to Texas the next morning. It was a huge honor.”
Chovanec said his family was proud to hear the news that he won the Commissioner’s Trophy.
“I had just won it, and I had my cell phone in my jacket pocket,” Chovanec said. “Right after I got off the stage giving my acceptance speech, my jacket started vibrating. I had my phone on silent, and I could feel it vibrating. I saw it was my parents. When I finally got back to the hotel room, I called them up. They were really happy. They watched the live stream on the Internet. They were real happy for me.”
The life of a college baseball player in the spring can be grueling, as they have to make several trips to different places of the country through the year.
Chovanec said trying to be productive on the field and in the classroom wasn’t always easy.
“It can get pretty hectic at times,” Chovanec said. “You’re getting pushed to the limits. On the field, coach (Mike) Kinnison and coach (Rodney) Batts expected the highest of you. You’re there to perform the best you can and to be what they saw in you. That’s a big pressure.
“I’ve always done well in school. College wasn’t easy by any means, but I was always a good student through high school. I just stayed at it, but you do feel stress when you combine both.”
Chovanec said trying to study away from the friendly confines of Cleveland was a challenge alone.
“You’re traveling 13 hours to play in a weekend series and then you’re having to do homework either in the hotel late at night or early in the morning on the bus trip back,” Chovanec said. “Sometimes, you don’t have Internet access when you have online classes. That can be kind of hectic. It’s stressful, but we get through it pretty well.”
The resident of Inez, Texas said Delta State and the city of Cleveland always made him feel welcome and appreciated.
“There’s such a great community at Delta State,” Chovanec said. “It’s enjoyable to go help people and do things. The community always pays you back whether it’s cooking for the team after the baseball game or something. Doing things in the community and being around the community is a joy. Doing those things really isn’t too hard when you have such a great community like Delta State and the Cleveland area.”
Chovanec has already earned his bachelor’s degree in exercise science with a minor in health and is currently working on getting his master’s degree in sports and human performance.