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Clayton Palicki finds right balance as Motlow College student-athlete
Success as a student-athlete at Motlow College means excellence on and off the field. For sophomore Clayton Palicki, Motlow has given him the opportunity to achieve that success. Even while being on the baseball team, where he is both an infielder and pitcher, Palicki has maintained high grades and earned the Dean's List designation last semester.
Palicki understands the importance of education. He played baseball at the prestigious Madison Academy in Huntsville, Ala., where he was named all-state his junior and senior seasons. During the recruiting process, Motlow head baseball coach Dan McShea recognized Palicki's work ethic and ability to balance school and baseball.
"Coach McShea believes in the value of hard work," Palicki said. "We're on the baseball field at least five hours a day, not including weight room stuff. School also takes hard work, and it's pretty tough to balance both, but the work ethic that Coach McShea teaches carries into the classroom."
Motlow was the perfect place for Palicki to continue his goals as an athlete and a student. "It was close to home. I had a connection with Coach McShea and he really wanted me out of high school," continued Palicki. "I felt like the Tennessee Community College Athletic Association was a better conference than the one in Alabama, and I wanted to play the highest level of baseball I could."
Palicki's path after high school did not lead directly to Motlow. He first attended Alabama A&M University in Huntsville, where he spent one semester. He decided to transfer after the head baseball coach left to coach elsewhere, and sat out one semester before enrolling at Motlow in the fall of 2012.
"Baseball is a sport that I almost gave up, but Coach McShea reached out to me and gave me an opportunity to play again," added Palicki.
While he has enjoyed the opportunity to play baseball again, he has also enjoyed his academic experience at Motlow. "One great thing about Motlow is the small class sizes. It's really beneficial to have a one-on-one experience with the teachers," added Palicki. "In large classes you don't get that experience."
Palicki's success at Motlow has opened up opportunities for him to continue playing baseball while continuing his education. "It's been a lot of fun being able to be on the field again, and it's opened some doors for me. I've already gotten an offer from Freed-Hardeman University and some other NAIA schools. My major goal would be to play for the University of Alabama-Huntsville, and I think I have a shot based on my academic and athletic success."
Even with the challenges of balancing academics and athletics, Palicki finds time to have fun at Motlow. "We always find ways to have fun during practice. Everyone on the team is really close to each other. We're all best friends."
Palicki is the great nephew of Tennessee Tech University Sports Hall of Fame member Flavious Smith. While playing for the Golden Eagles from 1948-1952, Smith earned letters in three sports. He was also the Dean of Athletics for 30 years.