Nico Mascia joined Tennessee baseball as a walk-on from Farragut High School, about 20 miles from UT's campus.
He had a limited role his first two years, serving as the bullpen catcher and even helping the managers with laundry, but this season he’s made 31 starts and leads the team with a .444 on base percentage, heading into the final regular season series against Missouri.
Mascia also leads the team with a 3.99 GPA. That’s even more impressive when you consider his major is chemical and biomolecular engineering.
“I could tell you that library like the back of my hand, unfortunately,” Mascia said with a laugh.
“I wake up right around 6:45, it’s either my dog kicking me in the face or my phone alarm going off, whatever comes first.”
Class in the morning, baseball in the afternoon, studying at night.
“I’m in bed about 3 or 3:30 every night and it just kind of starts over that’s kind of how it works,” Mascia said of his crazy schedule that allows time for three or four hours of sleep per night.
“It adds up but at the same time I love doing it, it’s exciting, I like the thrill of it. Every once in a while I wonder if it’s all going to catch up to me and I’m just going to sleep for like a week, maybe two weeks, like a bear or something," Mascia said laughing.
Nico is preparing himself for life as a surgeon.
“I like the ER, I like kind of the stressful fast pace, I just think I thrive well in that situation. You know some nights you don’t go to bed and stuff like that, I just feel like I’d do well in that area,” Mascia said.
He originally wanted to be an astronaut but changed his major from physics after shadowing a heart surgeon at UT Medical Center.
“I was as close to the action as I could be, it was like I was watching an episode of Grey’s Anatomy or something, I was right there. It was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had and I just fell in love with it.”
Calculus is his favorite subject in school.
“It’s a cool idea, I know it’s kind of nerdy per se but everything moves in the physical world and it can be calculated through calculus.”
Like the flight of a baseball.
“Really the baseball field kind of takes the pressure off me I feel like, up in the school with the classroom, it can be kind of stressful, as you can imagine. Coming here kind of relaxes me," Mascia said.
Mascia wasn’t planning on playing baseball in college, intending to focus on academics, until former Vols head coach Dave Serrano called him the summer before his freshman year with a walk-on offer.
“It was funny, he actually said I’ll give you some time to think about it, I hung up the phone and I called him back within five minutes and said yea I’ll come play," Mascia said with a smile.
“I’d always make sure that I was doing whatever I could because I didn’t really do anything on the field. I’d help the managers if I could and I’d come out here and help set up the field.”
He had one at-bat his first two years but with a new coaching staff came new opportunity.
“Coach (Tony) Vitello has this thing called quality at-bats, that kind of played to my advantage just because the style I play, I get hit by a pitch, I don’t move out of the way, I walk a lot. My roommates joke about the money ball style, like the movie.”
With school out for summer, Mascia can focus on baseball and his next big test.
“I take the MCAT August 18th, that’s the plan at least. I’m excited to sit down for seven, eight hours a day preparing for it because it’s stuff I know.”
You can find him in the library, 3rd floor on the right.