Matt and Chris Givin – Baseball Factory Brothers To Play Together at Xavier University
Baseball Factory has been lucky to see many talented players go to schools at all levels of the collegiate ranks – especially Division I programs – through their hard work on the field, dedicating themselves to the game and excelling in the classroom. For the Givin Brothers, that’s especially true and soon enough, they’ll be doing that together at the collegiate level.
Leading the way, was older brother Chris, a 2015 grad, who helped the Rock Canyon High School Jaguars to their first major championship last year as a senior right-hander and shortstop by tossing a six-hitter in the semifinals to qualify for the chance to even get to their first finals. Just a few months later, he was off to Xavier University to begin his collegiate career.
Right there with him was younger brother Matt, a 2017 grad, who also happens to be a right-handed pitcher and infielder, played third base (Chris played shortstop) and chipped in with a big run scored in the team’s 9-2 decider over Chatfield to capture their first 5A Championship. For both, it was a situation they cherished.
“Nothing really compared to that excitement,” said Matt. “Being able to share that achievement with my brother and competitor was truly amazing. He was such good role model to base my playing after because I knew that the team expected such great things from him. Playing with him helped me strive everyday to be better than he was and to this day I still do that. He has helped me up my game and I am so thankful for that.”
“It was cool to bring the first state championship to the school because going into the season, I don’t know if we were looked at on that level and it was cool to see our team get progressively better throughout the season,” said Chris. “Once we made playoffs, we said ‘why not make a run at this’ we have the guys to do it, great chemistry. Looking back, its surreal how awesome it was to be with those guys and my brother and be able to accomplish something that no one before us had done at the school.”
We first saw Chris at an Under Armour Baseball Factory College PREP event in Lakewood, CO in May of 2013 where he received video on his hitting, fielding and running. The following winter, Chris sent his video to college coaches so that they knew exactly the type of player they would get while on the field. Without the video, Chris mentions, his story could have changed dramatically.
“I used the video as a platform because later the following winter, I sent the video out to college coaches not sure that I would hear anything back. I wanted to get it out there so coaches knew who I was and I received a couple responses (Xavier being one of them). The video helps because I don’t know if I would have been in contact with any of the coaches at Xavier without it. So it was crucial.”
Chris and Matt’s father, Brian, agreed with the power of the video because of it catching the eye of Xavier coaches after a successful summer playing baseball.
“Billy O’Conner, the assistant coach had said to me, “When he got on our radar, one of the things we were impressed with was the video.” That kind of captured their interest after seeing him at a camp and on a travel team that happened to play at Xavier so they got to see him play live. He went out of his way to say that the video definitely had an impact.”
Upon arrival at Xavier, the transition to the college game got off to a tough start for Chris after dislocating his finger in one of the team’s spring practices earlier this season. He’s bounced back from the injury to currently hit .279 with three doubles, three triples and 10 RBI in 33 games in his freshman season. Chris hit his first collegiate home run on April 23rd against St. John’s. He’s excelling in the classroom as well, posting a 3.5 GPA in his first semester at school.
Matt, a 2016 Under Armour Pre-Season All-American is now a leader for the Jaguars, looking to carry on the legacy that led the team to their first title in 2015. Playing in the prestigious Arizona Junior Fall Classic this past Fall, Matt performed well as Baseball Factory noted his high IQ for the game and ability to be an impact at the next level.
“Playing with Baseball Factory was an awesome experience to be a part of,” said Matt. “I got the opportunity to meet some new people and get some great instruction from current players and coaches in the big leagues with Baseball Factory. I played with and against great talent and found some new styles to play the game right.”
Just as players that age can be thrilled at being at high-level events, they can also be disappointed by not performing to the highest level. Brian provided the right kind of encouragement that has stuck with Matt ever since.
“As a 16 or 17-year old, they think they can do better,” Brian mentions. “I told him I thought he did well and that the more you do at these events in these pressure situations, the better that experience will help you in the future. This stuff is so good because you’re going to be confident and play your best when it matters and that confidence is bred through doing these various things with the Baseball Factory.”
“It’s important to be calm under pressure. Matt knew that Coach O’Conner from Xavier University flew all the way from Cincinnati to Phoenix to see him,” said Patrick Wuebben, the Player Development Coordinator for both Matt and Chris. “In that game, Matt hit an opposite-field triple off the wall and made plays defensively at short. That was all it took. Right time, right place, ice in veins.”
The value of the relationship with Patrick stretched beyond the field for the Givin’s.
“Patrick was an unbelievable resource for the boys,” said Brian. “We hadn’t been through this before, so my wife and I were kind of blind to all of this. Patrick was unbelievable to us right off the bat.”
“Patrick was very supportive and instrumental in talking to my Dad through my process and now Matt’s in terms of what needed to be done to help make the transition go smoothly,” Chris mentions. “He was always there to answer any questions, available to talk when you needed it in guiding the transition into college.”
The story has morphed into one that not many brothers at any level get to experience and for the Givin’s, they’ll now get to experience it twice after Matt committed to Xavier to play baseball with Chris again. If all goes to plan, Chris, who will be a junior once Matt arrives to campus, will have two seasons to play together.
“To this day it’s hard to wrap my head around,” said Matt. “But the decision making process in my mind was an easy one. On top of being an academic school, with a genius coaching staff, I was going to be able to play with Chris and some serious talent at Xavier.”
Despite the excitement of having two children attend the same school and play on the same field, there were some concerns that the Givin Family had of both Matt and Chris’ opinions on the situation.
“My biggest concern for the commitment was Chris’ opinion on it,” said Matt. “I didn’t want to take away his college experience by nipping at his heels and always being around him. But when he said he would love for me to come and just wanted me to be happy with my decision, the decision became clear. Xavier was the way to go.”
“One of the things I told him was not to rush the decision,” said Chris. “I told him to go with his feelings, didn’t want to pressure him one way to say “you don’t want to follow in your big brother’s footsteps”, or “I really want you to come here”. I wanted the decision to be up to him. I didn’t want his decision too heavily dependent on my influence, because its four years for him, its not four years for me. I wanted him to be happy with the decision and if he’s happy with it then I’d be happy with wherever he chose to go.”
Brian and his wife Jean both looked at the situation from the same perspective, but ultimately, the decision fell to Matt.
“We have to be somewhat sensitive as parents and I think there was a part of Matt that to be honest, thought, “I don’t need to go there, I need to do my own thing” and it took him a while to come to the decision,” said Brian. “It had to be his decision even though he knew where Mom and Dad were leaning, it’s like, “Matt its your decision, I’ll tell you why I think this would be good, but if you don’t feel the same way, then don’t do it.”
The college recruiting process can be a tough one, but knowing that their children could go to a strong academic school first and foremost is the most rewarding. The Givin’s had Dan Mooney, Senior Director of College Recruiting aboard to assist in the process.
“It was a learning experience for us as parents. Dan Mooney was a great resource for us and the kids, especially with Matt. He was almost like a counselor for my wife and I. We were fortunate with his contacts at various schools and having relationships with schools and coaches because of his background. Its almost like you feel you have the notes to the test and you’re cheating when you have a guy like Dan or Patrick helping you through this, because, boy, you’re really blind if you don’t have someone to help guide you, I really believe that.”
When it came time to make a decision with Chris, Dan mentioned to Brian about the Factory’s backing of the benefits in playing multiple sports and that it doesn’t necessarily hurt players at all in the eyes of colleges. Both Brian and Jean realized the decision to attend the events and learn everything about the college recruiting process was essential in both Chris and Matt finding the right school.
“I think you look at what a big deal it is to have a good fit at a four-year university for any child, male, female… and the cost which can be ridiculous,” said Brian. “You almost have to look at it as, whether you’re doing a couple programs with BF to get exposure or the full-blown college recruiting thing with Dan to help navigate, it’s really a drop in the bucket. I understand not everyone can afford that, I’m not trying to be dismissive because you do pay for it, but its such a small, up-front cost to know exactly what the best decision will be for your child. That they end up at the right place, not only from a sports standpoint, but academically and to me, it was a no-brainer to pay that money and that the kids find a place they want to go and play at a baseball program that meets their level and you guys did a phenomenal job at laying all that our for us.”
Chris agreed with the plan and hopes the same will prove true for Matt as well.
“The most important thing is going to school for an education because you’re a student-athlete and getting the education first. I think that it plays a big role in your decision because you’re going to a place to be a student and then also play. It helped sway my decision in finding a school.”
Brian joked that he’s trying to figure out different ways to be able to go see Chris and Matt play at Xavier in 2017.
“I’m thrilled and excited for both of them and I’m just trying to figure out how I can become an Uber driver full time so I can watch the kids play all the time in Cincinnati.”