U of Tampa catcher reaping benefits of move from Div 1 to Div 2. 

Chris Gaffney is playing some of his best baseball with Spartans

TAMPA, FLA. — Chris Gaffney left the end-of-season meetings at the University of North Carolina Wilmington determined to be a starting catcher in the NCAA.

After being the quarterback, linebacker, point guard and catcher at St. John the Baptist High School in New York, Gaffney was desperate to play baseball full-time.

During his two years with Division I Wilmington, Gaffney’s time was limited, so he chose to chase a starting role in Division II.

“We had the end-of-season meetings and they kind of said, ‘Hey, if you want to be a full-time guy, if you want to be happy, look elsewhere.’ ”

Wilmington coaches still rated Gaffney’s skills highly, but weren’t able to offer him the playing time he desired.

The decision, however, was made easier when the University of Tampa Spartans, 2015 national champions, came calling.

“{Wilmington coaches} confided in me afterwards and said, ‘If it wasn’t for Tampa they liked me being here.’ “

Helped by some guidance from a former high school coach, Gaffney felt he made the right decision.

“My high school pitching coach played with coach Sam {Militello}, and he said this was a first-class program. So it was kind of a no-brainer, considering it’s the No.1 one program in D2,” Gaffney said, standing in the Tampa sunshine.

That doesn’t mean Gaffney didn’t have a rewarding experience in Wilmington. He smiles when asked about his time volunteering with Miracle League Wilmington.

“One of the greatest experiences of my college career so far. It just gives you a greater feeling of the game of baseball.” Gaffney said. “You really just don’t take the game for granted anymore.”

Gaffney is determined to play and enjoy the game for a long time, starting with a full-time role in a championship team in Tampa.

“A national championship baseball ring. That’s first and foremost our No.1 goal.”