Baseball: Southland Vikings’ Dan Potempa working to big goal of being picked in 2015 baseball draft
By Tim O’Brien For Sun-Times Media June 24, 2014 10:58PM
Dan Potempa, of the Southland Vikings, connects against the Northwest Indiana Oilmen at Oil City Stadium, Thursday, June 12th, 2014, in Whiting | Gary Middendorf/for Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 26, 2014 6:40AM
Dan Potempa was not content to just be on a Division I baseball team.
He wanted to be a key contributor, a threat on offense, a teammate to be counted on.
Transferring from Iowa Central Community College to the University of Iowa after his sophomore year, Potempa asked the coaching staff what he had to do.
“My role was kind of a mystery early on, so I sat back on my heels and then thought, ‘Hey, I got to get going,’ ” Potempa said. “I saw my role as being a pinch hitter so I asked our hitting instructor what I needed to do to change that.”
The answer was as simple and straightforward as a player could ask: work, work harder and execute every single chance.
Potempa took the message to heart, and the results were evident. The Providence grad, playing this summer for the Southland Vikings in the Midwest Collegiate League, went to work, hitting .330 with three home runs, 40 RBI and a team-leading 13 doubles in earning third-team All-Big Ten honors.
He played in 51 games, starting 48 of them for the Hawkeyes. He also won a Big Ten Player of the Week award in late March.
“Winning the player of the week, that’s when I knew I belonged,” Potempa said. “I was at my most confident, I belonged here and I could compete.”
For Potempa, playing at Iowa was and is an emotional experience, after having watched his brother, Sean, miss out on a football career at Iowa because of a devastating shoulder injury.
Dan Potempa is playing for his brother, and has his eyes set on his baseball future. Potempa is using his summer experience with the Vikings for a tweak here, a twist there.
His end game? He wants to be picked next June in the MLB draft.
“That’s what you want as a kid, and that’s what my ultimate goal is right now,” Potempa said. “I’m working on every possible thing. I want to stand out. I want to have power to all fields.”
The biggest change he has made has been a physical adjustment. Listed at 5-foot-10, 210 pounds on Iowa’s athletic website, Potempa has lost nine pounds, with hopes of losing 12 to 15 more. He primarily served as designated hitter as a junior at Iowa but splits time with the Vikings as a DH and an outfielder.
That physical transformation is just one more motivator working for one heck of a hitter.
“I was always taught to let criticism go in one ear and out the other,” Potempa said. “With that chip on your shoulder, it’s fun proving people wrong. I’m not slowing down and I’m not going to let people stop me. It’s full-speed ahead.”