Mason Nadeau was in North Carolina for a travel baseball tournament but kept seeing Penn State logos and apparel all over.
The rising North Penn senior took it all as a sign. Just a few days earlier, he had been offered a chance to play baseball for the Nittany Lions.
With all things seemingly pointing him to Happy Valley, Nadeau took a visit to the campus and it all came together. The outfielder announced on July 16 that he would be continuing his career at Penn State.
It was a quick process for Nadeau, but everything about it just felt right.
“It all started at the state championship game,” Nadeau said. “The head coach saw me there and that’s how I got on their radar. In early July, I was in a weeklong tournament in Georgia where the coaches saw me play and I had a pretty good tournament down there.”
It’s been a busy summer for Nadeau, starting with North Penn’s PIAA Class AAAA title in June, followed by travel ball and a spot on the Pennsylvania roster in the Big 26 Baseball Classic in July. After missing much of his sophomore season at North Penn with a shoulder injury, Nadeau saw life without baseball and wasn’t ready for that just yet.
One day in July helped ensure he won’t have to worry about that for at least five more years.
“That was the first place I ended up visiting,” Nadeau said. “On Monday (July) 13, I went up there for a visit and Coach (Rob) Cooper showed me the stadium, gave me a tour of the school and I just really liked it. There was an atmosphere and everyone I’ve talked to loved the campus. Even taking baseball out of it — it’s definitely a place I would want to go.”
Being pulled by some kind of unexplainable feeling is something many Penn State athletes have talked of and Nadeau also sensed the coaching staff was putting something good together. Cooper will enter his third season at the helm of Penn State after nine seasons at Wright State and is a well-regarded teacher of the game, earning the Rod Dedeaux USA Baseball Coach of the Year award in 2013.
While Penn State is not known for baseball, Cooper has been an active and energetic promoter of his program and the game and Nadeau felt a good vibe with the Nittany Lions’ manager.
“There was a lot of things, you could tell he had a strong passion for the program and he was trying to build a strong organization,” Nadeau said. “He’s really trying to rebuild a strong baseball program. He knows his stuff, he’s been around and he seems like a really good guy I’d like to play for and I could learn a ton from.”
Penn State started the 2015 season 0-10, but played much better in the second half of the year, something Nadeau brought up on his visit. Cooper replied the team found a new mentality that he expects to stick and Nadeau felt the same, adding that by the time he gets there, Cooper will have added more of his own recruits into the mix.
Committed to play baseball at The Penn State University! pic.twitter.com/nRUFpJe5xu
— Mason Nadeau (@nadeaubro) July 17, 2015
Cooper offered Nadeau the day after his visit, but also told the outfielder to take his time and think about it. Nadeau said he’s also had contact from coaches at the Air Force Academy, VMI, Campbell, Wofford, Bloomsburg and Millersville. One of his main objectives was to find a program where he could push for a starting bid right away and not have to sit or be a role player for a year or two.
Nadeau wanted to commit right away, but his parents had him think things over.
“I felt like if I went to another school, it would be forced,” Nadeau said. “There was just something about it that kept luring me to Penn State. The whole week, wherever I went, I just kept seeing Penn State stuff in the most random places. I kept taking them as signs.”
Nadeau spent the next few days talking it over with his family, North Penn coach Kevin Manero and his travel coaches. On Friday of that week, July 16, he called
Cooper and committed to play at Penn State. Cooper shortly after posted one of his signature tweets announcing the new addition.
Nadeau said he’s not sure what he will major in, but is leaning toward following his father’s path with a business or engineering degree or both. He will stay as an outfielder and after three years of high school play, is 2-0 in Penn State’s home park, Medlar Field at Lubrano Park, the location of his two state championships with North Penn. Nadeau said Penn State’s facilities were also a big selling point, saying the stadium stood out over ones he’s seen at NC State and Campbell this summer.
A junior captain last spring, Nadeau will be looked upon as a leader for North Penn this coming year, something the outfielder embraces and is looking forward to. He got a taste of it during the Big 26 where the PA team lost twice and tied the team from Maryland. Despite the results, he called it a very positive experience and he tried to take as much as he could from some of the state’s best players.
“It was an all-around great weekend with great baseball, it was just something different than what I’ve been playing,” Nadeau said. “They add the buddy aspect to it where each player is given a buddy and they have a buddy game to kick off the tournament. You’re paired up with a kid with a mental disability and they play their game and it was just a lot of positive, good attitudes. It was stuff that made you smile and enjoy the game.”
While his more immediate future will involve trying to get the Knights back to Penn State for another state title, Nadeau can do it knowing his baseball future is set.
“Above all else, it just feels good to be back playing,” Nadeau said. “A year without baseball was not fun It’s been great, I’ve just been having a ton of fun.”
Follow Andrew Robinson on Twitter @ADRobinson3.