Junior pursues passion for baseball, a sport he’s played since the age of 2

By Journalism I student Cameron Smith, ‘21

The ground ball skips across the infield at a rapid pace. It is easily scooped up in the glove and makes the lengthy travel from the shortstop position over to the first base bag. An aspiring baseball player as he takes continuous swings at the small, round ball with the goal of hitting it on a line into the outfield. Junior Philip Vilardo is on the field once again in what seems to be something similar to a second home for him. Vilardo’s passion and attitude for baseball ever since a young age could possibly lead to further successes for him and for the Upper Arlington baseball program. Hard work, determination, and overall a positive attitude that he has is evident on and off the field and can be seen simply by passing him in the halls or having a class with him.

Baseball has played an important role in Vilardo’s life and has taught him a lot. Vilardo started playing baseball at the age of 2 simply by tossing with his dad in the backyard. However it was not until the summer of 2016 that he felt a passion for the game. 

A current junior, Philip Vilardo has played baseball since he was 2 years old, yet it wasn’t until recently that he discovered a passion for the game. Image courtesy Philip Vilardo

“I really discovered that I wanted to pursue baseball and see where it could take me,” he said. “I just had so much fun playing that summer.” 

Fun is an emphasis that Vilardo puts on his game and allows him to continue to enjoy it. He takes pride in his work and does not skip a rep or swing at batting practice. These are the lessons that have been taught by his coaches and from an early age, his dad who have both played a crucial role in his development. 

“I’ve had plenty of great coaches that I owe a lot to,” Vilardo said. Support from my family and friends is also huge for me and push me each and every day.” This support helps Vilardo’s overall game play,  knowing that he has people in his corner who consistently support his goal of improvement.

Vilardo is trying to improve his game and continually get better. One important aspect to his success on the field is motivation. Vilardo is able to get this motivation from his friends on the field who end up helping with his development more than motivating. Through the competition with them he is able to improve upon his practice habits and overall skills. 

“I am an extremely competitive person, and ultimately I feel like playing with my friends almost turns into a separate competition from the game we are playing.” 

This speaks to Vilardo’s competitive nature by creating a competition during games and at practice to better himself as a player and ultimately as a person. 

But Vilardo is more than just a baseball player; he is also an honors student and does an excellent job of balancing his schoolwork and time spent on the field, as well as free time as he is able to spend hanging out with his friends watching sports or playing games on his Playstation.

Vilardo is entering his third season on the UAHS baseball team and has high hopes for the team as well as his teammates. 

“Upper Arlington is one of the best organizations in Ohio with some of the best coaches in Ohio,” he said. 

Vilardo hopes that these coaches can continue to give him the tools and proper coaching to find success at the next level, just as they seemingly do with every senior class, sending many Upper Arlington alumni to play in college. He is looking forward to building off the success of two previous seasons but is tempering expectations a bit because of the new wave of varsity players

“Our junior class is going to have to grow up and become really good fundamentally really fast,” he said. “We are going to be a team that is really young in terms of varsity experience. But I believe that we have a lot of talent and have great coaches from the weight room to the field and everything in between.” 

Despite a group of new players and only a second year head coach in Sam Clark, Vilardo believes in a similar season like last season that led to a district championship. 

“We are going to be a competitive team all year, taking after the 2019 class. They left a legacy of work ethic and great team play on the field, and everyone in the program remembers and is continuing to learn how great they were. It’s our turn now to take what they showed us and turn it into a state championship.” 

Upper Arlington Baseball is preparing to open up the 2020 baseball season in the spring and have been training hard during the offseason with time in the weight room and scrimmages against one another. Vilardo is looking to lead the team this year and his positivity about the team and determination to get better resonated with me and spoke highly of his character. He made me believe him and it is evident that his teammates are responsive to his play on the field and the energy that he brings and also the motivation he brings to the table.

After a long day on the field, he prepares to head home packing up the remainder of the baseballs and putting the 32-inch bat back in his bag. Vilardo is preparing to finish up some of his homework and proceed to tune into the Dodgers game as they take on the Nationals. He pays attention to the hard work put on the field and puts an attempt to emphasize that part in his game for the next day of practice.