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From the graduation files: Gigliotti uses baseball injury as motivation to complete degree

Gigliotti uses injury, pandemic as opportunity to complete college degree.

Kim Chaudoin  | 

Michael Gigliotti in Bison baseball uniform

Michael Gigliotti was a member of the Bison baseball team from 2015-2017.

For as long as Michael Gigliotti can remember, he has had a passion for baseball. 

His pursuit of the sport he loves landed him at Lipscomb University as an outfielder for Bison baseball team in fall 2015. And, in 2017 following his successful junior season that saw him named an American Baseball Coaches Association/Rawlings Sporting Goods Gold Glove winner and posting a .994 fielder percentage, his baseball dream came true. The Davie, Florida, native was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the 4th round of the 2017 MLB June Amateur Draft.

To make one dream come true, however, Gigliotti had to push pause on another goal — earning a college degree. 

“Professional baseball is a fun, yet challenging journey. Getting to chase your dream is nothing less than a blessing,” says Gigliotti. “How many of us wanted to be an artist, a singer, a dancer, an astronaut, or anything else growing up as a kid? To still pursue that same ambition I had since I was six years old is what keeps me going day in and day out.”

But sometimes things have a way of working out. And on Saturday, May 8, Gigliotti will complete that other life goal as he will receive a Bachelor of Science in Integrated Studies during commencement.

Gigliotti’s journey back to Lipscomb and the completion of this milestone comes after he took an unexpected detour from his professional baseball career. In May 2018, Gigliotti suffered a torn ACL, had surgery and missed nearly the entire season. 

“Tearing my ACL in 2018 was an eye opener on how fast baseball can be taken away from me. I took it upon myself to go back to school to make sure that one day when ball is done, I’ll have my education to provide security for me and my family,” explains Gigliotti. “No one can take that away from me.” 

So Gigliotti turned to the place where he invested three years of his college career — Lipscomb University. He had fond memories of his days at Dugan Field and in the classroom.

“Baseball at Lipscomb was like playing with family. I became so close with many of my teammates. You live together, go to class together, eat together, workout together, compete together. I’ve made bonds with guys that are endless and priceless,” he says.

“My experience at Lipscomb was one of growth and opportunity. I learned so many important lessons that I will lean on for the rest of my life,” he continues. “Men like Jeff Forehand and Brad Coon showed me what it’s like to be a man, a leader, a good father and a hard worker. 

He returned to the university as a student in Lipscomb Online, a flexible program that would fit his schedule as a professional baseball player who is on the road for months during a season. 

After three seasons with the Kansas City Royals organization, Gigliotti was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays in September 2020 and plays in the organization’s minor league program. 2020 also brought another unexpected twist — the Covid-19 pandemic which caused the cancellation of all minor league baseball for the season. 

“As bad as COVID was for many of us, I tried my best to make some good out of the situation. Having extra down time from baseball due to our 2020 season being canceled and 2021 season being pushed back, it was the perfect time for me to wrap up my last remaining classes,” says Gigliotti. “The online program was perfect for me. It allowed me to go at my own pace, giving me time to train for baseball and providing the convenience of learning in my own home.” 

“I’m so happy and thankful that I went to Lipscomb. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people that have impacted my life in ways they couldn’t even imagine,” he continues. “People such as Jeff Forehand, Brad Coon, Bryan Ryman, James Ogden, Philip Hutcheson, Dr. Robertson, my awesome teammates, my wise professors and countless others who have helped me along the way. Thank you. I’m forever proud to be a bison.” 

Next up for Gigliotti is to focus on baseball and working his way back up from the minors to the major league. “I have all the confidence in the world on making it to the major leagues,” he admits. “Doing that and being a devoted husband to my beautiful wife, Ashleigh, are my only priorities right now.”

Learn more about Lipscomb Online.