The Road Less Traveled

Feb. 11, 2014

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By Andrew Jennette

ORLANDO, Fla. ( - UCF infielder Bret Gordon'sstory is the stuff of which feel-good underdog sagas are made.

From suffering a serious injury, to a stellar club career, to walking on at a nationally ranked program, the Tampa native has followed the road less traveled to become one of the UCF's baseball team's most valuable members. He also happens to be the lone senior for the 2014 Knights.

The 5-foot 11-inch outfielder began his journey to Orlando when he hit .328 in his final season at Chamberlain High School in Tampa and was named to the All-Western Conference First Team.

While he had a great senior season, a torn ACL limited the interest he received from college programs significantly. Facing a full year away from the game for rehab, Gordon did not receive a single scholarship offer. So he decided to enroll at UCF as a student in the industrial engineering program.

"Industrial engineering is tough, but if you work at it, it opens an endless amount of doors for you beyond where you can go athletic-wise," Gordon said. "There's so many people helping you in academics, sports, networking, and then even within your college, the college itself opens doors for you. You just have to be able to manage your time and still have fun doing it."

Baseball was on the back burner. But it didn't stay there for long. A year away from the diamond reignited Gordon's desire to keep playing baseball, so he joined UCF's club team as a sophomore in 2012. In addition to playing, he gained even more appreciation for the game while simultaneously serving as a coach in the student-run organization.

Gordon's squad advanced to regionals and finished one game shy of reaching the Club World Series.

The experience with UCF's club team was so rewarding that Gordon yearned for more. He, along with a few of his teammates, decided to give their dream one last shot. They each signed up for the annual walk-on tryouts with the UCF baseball team later that summer.

"Probably around 20 or 30 guys showed up for open tryouts," Gordon recalled. "Two of them were my friends from the club team. Believe it or not, the three of us from the club team were the only three to actually get called back." Former club teammates Chase Wilcox and Lorenzo Butler ended up stepping away from the game, leaving Gordon as the last man standing. He ended up making a considerable impact for the Knights over the final 28 games of the 2013 season, batting .316 with five doubles, one home run and 12 RBI.

For his efforts, Gordon was recognized before this season as a unanimous selection to the American Athletic Conference preseason all-conference team as the designated hitter. He was honored by the recognition but dismisses any extra praise he may receive based on his path to the Knights.

"To me, there is no difference between myself and any scholarship player, because they worked their butts off to get their scholarship," Gordon said. "My route just happened to be a different route. God's plan for me wasn't to get a scholarship. It was to work my way through to get on the team. Either way, you have to work your way up to play Division I college baseball, especially here at UCF."

Although he's the lone senior on a squad of 35 student-athletes, Gordon shares the responsibility of a leadership role with some of the program's other veterans.

"I've only been in the program for two years and we have guys who have been here three," Gordon said of junior teammates Eric Skoglund, James Vasquez, JoMarcos Woods and Tommy Williams. "I'm just as new as some of these first-year players, and I may only have just an extra semester or two on them baseball-wise, but we're all just one team. If there's anything I can help them with, I will. But there are some leaders on this team who can help as well."

Gordon knows all eyes are going to be on him at this year's Senior Day. It will be only his jersey number -- 36 -- painted on the grass and just his family who will be there to greet him on the field. For once, the spotlight is going to shine bright on him.

"It's going to be something I'll probably embrace," Gordon said when looking forward to the end of the season. "It's surreal. You play at a Division I college. You have to just embrace everything and every moment you get playing on the field. I've just been blessed with the teams I have been a part of here, and hopefully this year we'll be at the top of the rankings, so the celebration can extend beyond just me (on Senior Day)."



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