March 27, 2008
World traveler. Businessman. College student. Baseball player. All of these terms describe Simi Reynolds, a senior outfielder on the Washington State University baseball team and a Cougar captain in 2008.
A native of Renton, Wash., Reynolds, along with teammate Matt Fanelli, was among a group of Washington State student-athletes and staff who traveled to Kasai, Japan earlier this year to spend a week at International Christian University, Washington State's sister institution. The purpose of the trip was to discuss cultural differences and similarities in the United States and Japan and come together through athletics.
"I had a chance to run a clinic while I was in Japan," Reynolds said. "I helped organize a practice and showed the Japanese athletes some of the drills we do at Washington State."
Reynolds added, "The thing that amazed me is the student-athletes don't have much, but it was impressive to see how much pride they demonstrated in taking care of what they have. The money is Japan is in the education and not much money goes into athletic programs."
The trip to the Far East was not the first outside of the United States for Reynolds. After his freshman season at the University of Washington in 2003, he traveled to Brazil for a two-year church mission.
"I am interested in international business and I have been fortunate to have been given two opportunities to travel to other countries," Reynolds said. "In my opinion, you can learn a lot when you have an open mind toward another culture."
As a captain for the Cougars in 2008 Reynolds is expected to be a leader, and says his experience in Japan will help him in that role.
"The Japanese players are highly self-motivated," Reynolds said. "They do not have a coach. A captain is elected each year and he schedules games and puts together a practice schedule.
"Sometimes I take for granted and lose sight of the opportunity I have to play in a great facility at an outstanding institution. Our coaching staff is constantly reminding us the tighter the unit we are as a team, the more we are going to trust each other. The more we trust each other, the better we are going to be on the baseball field. It was good to see an example of that with the Japanese team."
While teammates Paul Gran, Greg Lagreid and Jared Prince have professional scouts talking about them, Reynolds knows that despite a team-leading .347 batting average and Pacific-10 honorable mention selection in 2007, baseball might not be his meal ticket after graduation.
"Baseball is always a possibility and at the end of the season, if I have played well and get to play in the minor leagues, I will be happy with that," Reynolds said. "I am studying business and sociology to give myself options. If baseball doesn't work out, I will be putting on a suit and tie."
That type of attitude is a major reason by WSU Head Coach Donnie Marbut made him a captain.
"Simi epitomizes what we want our program to be about," Marbut said. "He gets it done in the classroom, is great in the community, and gives 100 percent everyday on the field."
Reynolds serves on the executive staff of a non-profit organization, Athletes for Kids, a company he co-founded when he was in high school. The company matches athletes with children in need of mentors and role models.
"I still keep in touch with Craig and Doug Moscaret, two kids I mentored in high school," Reynolds said. "I used to play video game with them, take them out to eat, and tap into their interests in order to build upon those interests. I look at those two guys as younger brothers. Now, I am part of a five-person board that oversees the growth of the company."
For now, Reynolds is part of a WSU program coming off its first back-to-back winning seasons since 1993-94 with dreams of playing in the postseason. The Cougars entered the season with plenty of momentum having won their final three conference series in 2007. During the stretch, WSU took two out of three at home from Stanford, on the road against national champion Oregon State, and in Pullman over NCAA super regional participant UCLA.
The Cougars have continued their success racing out to a 15-7 mark this season heading into a four-game road trip, March 28-31.