Friday, May 23, 2014

Versatile Christian Arnold will leave big shoes to fill at KCKCC


KANSAS CITY, KAN. ----- It’s going to be hard to determine who is going to miss Christian Arnold the most at Kansas City Kansas Community College – head baseball coach Steve Burleson or athletic director Tony Tompkins.

The leader in home runs and runs-batted-in for Burleson’s 39-22 baseball team, Arnold was also the public address announcer and national anthem vocalist for all the home basketball games this past season.

“Christian did a tremendous job working our PA and singing the national anthem,” said Tompkins. “He’s an outstanding young man who represented himself and KCKCC athletics extremely well and will be greatly missed.”

“We’re certainly going to miss him,” said Burleson. “He’s a great kid and very spiritual, the moral compass of our team.”

One of a half-dozen standouts from Raymore-Peculiar High School to play for the Blue Devils the past two years, Arnold will continue his baseball career at Pittsburg State University where he’ll have three years of baseball eligibility.

”It’s exciting, it’s going to be awesome,” says Arnold, who has one year of eligibility left at KCKCC but graduated May 21.

A redshirt as a freshman, Arnold had a spectacular season in his first year of collegiate baseball. In addition to leading the team in home runs with 10 and RBI with 52, Arnold hit .305 with a .525 slugging percentage.

A defensive standout in right field, Arnold made three sensational diving catches and a perfect one hop throw to the plate in the super-regional playoffs.

While taking a redshirt season was not at the top of Arnold’s hit list his freshman year, he calls it a blessing in disguise.

“Sitting out was hard but I and Coach talked and I was really not ready to play,” admits Arnold. “It helped me leaps and bounds. I would not be in the position I’m in without a redshirt year as a freshman.”

“We redshirted Christian so that his baseball instincts could catch up with his baseball abilities,” says Burleson. “So now he has three years to play in a good Division II program. The sky’s the limit for him.”

While he led in home runs and RBI, Arnold does not consider himself a power hitter.

“No, not at all,” he says. “I came in only wanting to hit three home runs but my role changed from high school to college. I didn’t steal as many bases as I was used to stealing. But I still don’t consider myself a power hitter. I learned quickly that if you try to hit home runs, you won’t and your average will go down.”

As for singing the national anthem, that all came by accident and without experience. He did not sing in the choir in high school or anywhere else for that matter.

“I went to church with Coach (Damian) Stambersky and his mother-in-law heard me sing and told Coach that I should sing the national anthem before the basketball games. I didn’t want to do it at first but finally decided to give it a try and ended up doing it for two years. Then I was also on the PA this year and it was really a lot of fun doing both.”

The son of Jim and Jill Arnold of Lee’s Summit, his singing now is limited to Raintree Community Church in Lee’s Summit. The youngest of three children, he has a brother, Brandon, 25, and sister, Amanda, 22.

Arnold took the path of several Raymore-Peculiar athletes in coming to KCKCC. “Andrew Kreiling and Dylan Donley were already here and Garrett McKinzie kind of led the way,” says Arnold. “He signed and then I talked to Garrett and Coach Stambersky saw me play and offered me a scholarship. And then Cole Frakes and Hunter (Phillips) also signed.”

Unfortunately, the season was ended by heartbreaking 8-1 and 2-0 losses in the super-regional championship games after a spectacular comeback.

“We were 5-15 at one point and coach asked us‘Do we want something better?’ and we did,” remembers Arnold. “We had goals of finishing fifth in the conference and .500 for the season and we ended up fifth in the standings but second in the conference and had 17 more wins than losses. So I have nothing but good things to say about the season we had.”

At Pittsburg State, Arnold’s goal is to be a difference-maker. “I don’t want to be just a filler guy, I want to step up to their expectations and perform at the highest level.”

But he will miss KCKCC. “Absolutely,” he says. “It’s been my home for the past two years and I’ve loved every single moment of it. I would not have had it any other way.”