One 9 minute, 33 second video put Trey Kissack into the recruiting fast lane.
Entering his senior year, the Grand Island Senior High pitcher had his sights set on playing at a Division I level.
After his father Rick — the Islanders’ head baseball coach — uploaded a bullpen session to recruiting website fieldlevel.com on June 1, Kissack received interest from nine new colleges within the next week.
After taking visits to several programs last week, Kissack verbally committed to the University of North Dakota.
“I really liked the school,” Kissack said. “I think they’ve got a lot of things going on over there in their baseball program and the coach was very promising. I liked a lot of the things he said to me.
“They have a lot of activities, such as hockey. I love watching hockey, and it’s a great hockey school. So that’s a big plus.”
The recruiting process can be difficult for baseball players involved in other sports. Most colleges don’t start seriously tracking potential recruits until the summer prior to their senior season, and college camps can run into the fall.
For Kissack, who is a quarterback on the Islanders’ football team, going to fall baseball camps simply isn’t possible.
That’s why his father thought about using a video to speed along the process.
“We heard what the expectations were to play Division I baseball,” Rick said. “So we put together a video on June 1 of a complete bullpen session.”
The first part of the video was shot from behind the catcher and included the readings from a radar gun with Trey consistently hitting 88 miles per hour or above on his fastballs. The second was shot from behind Trey as he pitched, and the final part was a side view.
The results were almost instantaneous.
“It happened so fast,” Trey said. “We threw that bullpen on June 1, and later that night we had colleges calling. It was very quick.”
Schools like Minnesota, North Dakota, North Dakota State, Indiana State, Missouri State, Eastern Illinois and Northern Illinois showed interest. That led to a quickly planned trip to visit Minnesota and the North Dakota schools on June 4.
“On the last day of May he’d had little interest,” Rick said. “On June 2, there were several DI calls and the whole recruiting process had changed.”
Trey was offered one of North Dakota’s few scholarships available for the class of 2016, and he decided it was the right place for him. North Dakota had shown interest in him starting in March.
“(Committing so early) didn’t really matter to me,” Trey said. “I just wanted to go to the right school that I thought was a good fit. Right away, I noticed that North Dakota was one of them.”
Rick said coaches seemed impressed with Trey’s velocity with several feeling he can consistently pitch in the 90s. That is one area where he showed great improved throughout his junior season.
“I went to a Doane camp where I was throwing 84, and then I went to see a guy in New Orleans, Brent Pourciau,” Trey said. “He’s got a new kind of pitching mechanics that he adds. He can add eight or nine miles per hour to a fastball. I went in there throwing 84. He gave me a couple tips. I came out throwing 88.
“I’ve continued to work on it, and last week I hit 90. That’s six miles an hour in three months.”
Accepting the scholarship offer helped Trey reach a long-time goal.
“I’ve always wanted to be a Division I baseball player, starting around when I first got into baseball around age nine,” he said. “That first summer we played, I went from hardly playing baseball at all to playing about 60 games. I was just absolutely loving it. I knew from that point on I wanted to play college baseball rather than football.
“Marv Engleman is really the guy that locked me into baseball. He really helped me develop in my younger stages. A lot of what he did I still go by today and he’s helped me become the ballplayer that I am.”
Trey was a teammate with fellow Islander Parker Upton on that first team. Upton — a Creighton recruit — is the only other Islander to have committed prior to his senior year.
For Trey, pitcher didn’t become his top position until a few seasons later.
“At 12, we started the Junior Islanders, and he went from 60 games to about 100 games a year,” Rick said. “So like a college pitcher, he was pitching once a week, and I think that’s where he started to take off pitching wise. He was able to throw multiple pitches right away.”
Trey’s best pitch is his changeup, which he has thrown since he was 9.
“I’ve always been an average pitcher until about age 12,” Trey said. “I always threw out of the bullpen, then around 12 I started a little bit. Around 13 I kept going.
“My freshman year I broke my wrist, so I couldn’t hit any more. I became a pitcher only that summer. From then on, I knew pitching was going to get me to the highest level.”
Rick said he’s glad the video helped Trey after seeing the recruiting process go into the senior seasons of former Islanders like Johnny Dorn and Kash Kalkowski.
“He’s still got a lot of work to do, but he’s on the right track,” he said.
Trey was prepared to go to as many camps as he could this summer prior to committing. But some — like Minnesota’s on Aug. 8 — would conflict with football.
Now he can enjoy his senior season in both sports without having to worry about where his college future lies.
“Now I’m 100 percent locked into football,” Trey said. “I don’t have to worry about going to camps or having a sore arm to deal with from throwing at showcases.”
Thanks in part to a 9:33 video.
Dale Miller is a sports writer for the Independent.