Foundation Academy seniors Braden Holcomb and Nate Seeber signed recently their National Letters of Intent with their respective colleges — Vanderbilt and University of Maine — becoming the first two baseball players to officially receive a full-ride scholarship to play college baseball at a Division I school.
“It’s crazy, because I’ve been committed for a while now,” Holcomb said. “But now that I signed my letter of intent, it kind of made it official so it’s a pretty cool achievement. This school has been around for a long time. This baseball program has been around for a long time. So to be one of the first ones with a scholarship — it means a lot. It’s a lot of hard work that I had to put in, so I’m very excited.”
“It’s pretty cool; I just transferred here this year and I think it’s pretty cool to be recognized — even though a lot of people don’t really know me here,” Seeber said.
HOLCOMB, A FUTURE COMMODORE
Holcomb was born Oct. 28, 2004, at the Eglin Air Force Base, in Niceville, Florida, while his dad, Jason, was located there. His two siblings, Jacob and Samantha also were born on the same base.
The Holcombs breathe baseball. Ever since he can recall, from his earliest memory, Braden Holcomb has been playing the sport.
“I can’t honestly tell you the exact time I started playing baseball,” he said. “I was on the field ever since I could walk.”
His parents, Lynn and Jason, both played baseball and softball at the high school and collegiate levels.
“My mom played shortstop, as well, for the University of West Florida,” Braden Holcomb said. “She was an All-American there and won the national championship there, too. My dad played in high school and played a little bit of college ball.”
Being born into a baseball family, Braden Holcomb didn’t have much of a choice growing up when deciding what sport to play. However, today, baseball means everything to him.
“I didn’t have a choice whether or not to get into baseball,” he said. “I grew up on the field. But growing up, I was doing it all the time, so I didn’t necessarily love it as much. But because I was doing it so much, I started to love the game and everything about it. So I would say I got pushed into it at the beginning, but I’m glad it happened. Now I love the game and enjoy playing it. Baseball means everything, and it’s probably the biggest part of my life, for sure.”
Braden Holcomb had been verbally committed with the Vanderbilt Commodores for a few years and was relieved when he finally was able to make it official with his family by his side.
“Once I signed that paper, I finally made it official,” he said. “So, it was just relieving, and I feel like I’ve been talking about that day for a while and it finally (happened).”
Foundation Academy head baseball coach Jay Welsh expects Braden Holcomb will continue to impress at Vanderbilt.
“Braden is a generational player,” he said. “Everything he does on the field is different. The ball comes off his bat different at over 100 mph. When he throws the ball across the diamond or on the mound, you hear the humming of the baseball. When he runs, you see how fast he is. He has all five tools, and he just does everything differently.
“In terms of his work ethic, everybody sees the physicality of him, but they don’t see the work he puts in,” Welsh said. “They don’t see him here in the summertime working out with his guys. They don’t see when it’s 95 in the batting cage, and he’s in there hitting some baseballs. They don’t see the 75 ground balls he takes on a daily basis.”
A leader on and off the field, Holcomb is looking forward to becoming a Commodore.
“(I’m looking forward to seeing) the way they represent themselves, the kind of people they have on their team and the way they go about their business,” he said. “They are a top-notch program, (and) they are definitely a brotherhood, they care about each other. So, I’m excited to go into that program.”
However, in terms of legacy and leaving his mark at Foundation, Braden Holcomb wants to be remembered as more than a baseball player.
“I want to leave a good name for myself,” he said. “I don’t want to be known as a baseball player. I just want to be known as the kind of guy who was nice to everybody, who was always nice to the young kids that looked up to me. It’s not about baseball; I want to be known as a good person who really cared for others.”
SEEBER, THE NEXT MAINE BEAR
Nate Seeber was born May 2, 2004, in Austin, Texas, but has lived in the Orlando area since he was 2.
Seeber began his baseball career at age 6 and realized he enjoyed his time on the baseball field, spending quality time with his dad, Eric.
“My dad played high school and college baseball,” he said. “I enjoyed just throwing the ball (with him). I think this was the first sport that I got my mind into.”
As a middle-schooler, Seeber realized there was more to baseball. It became his passion.
“I played it every weekend, and it was a big part of my life,” he said. “So, I kind of wanted to play at the next level and have something greater than high school baseball.”
A former First Academy Royal, this will be Seeber’s first — and last— season with the Lions playing a sport that has taught him more than just how to throw a ball and how to swing a bat.
“It humbles you a lot, because you win a lot of games and you lose a lot of games,” he said of the game. “You make a lot of friends, but you make a lot of enemies, too (playing baseball). I think it’s a great sport to play. It’s not individual where you try to impress anyone. You work together as a team; you make plays. I think it’s more of a bonding sport than it is individual, and that made me a better person.”
Seeber verbally committed to the University of Maine when he was a sophomore and finally was able to seal the deal after signing his NLI alongside Braden Holcomb.
“I have a full ride because of my academics, and that helped me to make the decision to accept,” Seeber said. “It’s completely free and a (Division I) school and, I like it up there. I felt relieved (when signing), because my family was behind me, and the school was in front of me, so I think it was nice to get it over with and knowing that I’m officially going to (play) college baseball.”
Seeber said he enjoys being on the mound and throwing the ball more than anything.
“He’s one of those rare kids (who) want the baseball and want to rack up innings,” Welsh said. “He’s athletic. He is fast. He can play the outfield, first base. He (will) have to make a decision when he gets to (the Division I school) to see if he is going to be a pitcher or if he is going to (be) a position player.”
Seeber is looking forward to traveling with the Maine Bears and playing other DI schools.
“Just going to the other Division I colleges that you get to see on TV,” he said. “You get to go there and actually play against them and meet those coaches you used to see on TV. I’m looking forward to being there with my teammates and my friends.”
Welsh expects the two signings to benefit the Lions in the future.
“When you have players like (them), it attracts other players,” Welsh said. “Those guys came in here and gave us a push, and we are going to collect the residual.”