Travis Misner jokes that he didn’t actually become a student-athlete until the final home baseball game of his career at Loras College.
The St. Charles North product’s baseball career with the Division III Duhawks was undermined by injury from the beginning, including labrum surgery his junior season after which, Misner never fully recovered his pitching prowess.
Misner remained with the program in moral support mode, and finally was summoned to the pitcher’s mound as a symbolic gesture in May in a game against Buena Vista University.
“Everyone was off the bench, everyone was up, everyone in the stands was excited – everyone knew what was going on,” Misner said. “It still gives me the chills right now thinking about it.”
Misner chuckled when recounting a decidedly un-Hollywood ending to the story; he was removed from the game after walking one batter and hitting another.
Then again, Misner can afford to laugh off his lack of on-field success. The doors opened through his college baseball experience could last a lifetime.
In January, Misner was elected chairman of the NCAA Division III Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, a one-year term that began in May. Although Misner wrapped up his undergraduate studies this spring, he is allowed to serve in that role in the coming year while he completes a fellowship at Northern Illinois University as a bridge to his eventual sports administration master’s program at Ohio University.
Misner served as a Student-Athlete Advisory Committee member as an upperclassman at Loras – located in Dubuque, Iowa – before taking over in a leadership capacity.
“It wasn’t something I was randomly appointed to,” Misner said. “It was something the committee thought I’d be able to do, and I’m very excited for that. It’s something I can’t even put into words, how excited I am for it for this year.”
Misner’s involvement with the committee paved the way for travel to various conventions and events, including a pair of distant, overseas trips.
In March 2012, Misner represented the United States at a conference in Taiwan in which collegiate athletes from more than 60 countries compared notes on how college sports operate in their homelands.
“Frankly, people looked at us like we’re completely out there for putting as much emphasis as we do on collegiate athletics, but after we broke it down and kind of explained it, people were almost envious of the way we do it here,” Misner said.
That trip coincided with Misner’s 21st birthday, and he joked that the birthday only lasted six hours because of time lost while traveling.
Similarly epic travel awaits Friday, when Misner heads for Kazan, Russia, by way of Frankfurt, Germany, then Moscow. In Kazan, Misner will recap discussions that took place at last year’s Taiwan conference as part of the World University Games that are taking place next week in Russia.
Misner thinks he’s well-suited for the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee because he’s not afraid to speak up for his convictions, even if it’s an unpopular viewpoint. He said among the hot-button issues during his time on the committee were discussing whether college coaches should be allowed to text message recruits and whether incoming student-athletes should undergo sickle-cell trait screening.
“We spent probably five or six hours over the course of two, three meetings just talking about those specific issues,” Misner said. “You want to pull your hair out by the time the vote is up to membership, but it’s always worth it because it ends up helping out the student-athletes.”
Misner, whose younger brother, Tim, recently concluded his St. Charles North baseball career, said he’d like to work in college athletics long-term, musing that a return to Loras as athletic director one day would be ideal.
He’s well on his way to compiling quite a resume.
“I’m just very excited and very grateful for everything that’s happened,” Misner said. “I did pretty well in school – I wasn’t the best student and I clearly wasn’t the best athlete, but it’s opportunities I’ve been able to take advantage of that really have helped me.”