This fall, GFA senior Trace Florio — who was told early in his baseball career that he just wasn't good enough — signed an official National Letter of Intent to play D-I ball at Lafayette University.
“First of all, none of those would be possible without my parents and the help of my teammates and coaches,” Florio said in the aftermath of his signing. “They supported me through everything.”
That included many of the ups and downs of his baseball career. When Florio tried out for an elite travel baseball program and didn't make the team, that only fueled his inspiration to work harder. He played American Legion baseball and got better. A year later, he went back and tried out for the travel team again, this time making the team. However, a coach told him he would probably never be a Division I athlete.
Instead of getting down about such prospects, though, Florio took advantage of the situation around him and kept working toward his goal of playing baseball at the highest collegiate level possible.
“I went right back the following year,” said Florio. “Baseball U just has an incredible reputation and I’ve just really made some incredible strides in the past three years. They really have a supportive environment and they hold you accountable. They’re going to force you to compete.”
Competing is something Florio is passionate about, whether he's on the mound or in the field — though he’s heading to Lafayette as a pitcher.
“I love being a two-way player, which is what is so great about high school,” Florio said. “But I really love being in command of the game and just holding myself accountable. It doesn’t matter if I’m starting or coming in and trying to shut somebody down in a relief outing, it’s just a great feeling being a pitcher. I love competing one-on-one against the hitter in the box. It gives me an adrenaline rush and makes me compete even harder.”
Which is a valued commodity in the Greens Farms Academy baseball program, according to head coach Pat Vigilio, who also oversees the Baseball University CT program.
“Trace is a very athletic and competitive left-handed pitcher who will do very well in the Patriot League,” Vigilio said. “Trace has set the standard at GFA of what a pitcher/baseball player should be. He’s a very humble yet approachable young man who’s a natural leader. We’re looking forward to what the 2022 season brings with Trace leading the way in the mound.”
Florio started his career at Darien High School, and transferred into to GFA as a junior. In addition to the high academic pursuit GFA offers, he also enjoys the campus’s small-school feel. These were qualities he wanted in a college, as well.
Florio said, "When I visited Lafayette I just immediately fell in love with it. I loved the student body — they were all so welcoming and the coaches paid so much attention to my well-being. And the players had nothing but good things to say so I’m really happy with my decision.”
Florio isn’t 100 percent sure what he’ll major in Lafayette, but he likes the fact the school’s Liberal Arts programs offers a variety of options.
“I’m going in undecided, but it honestly checked all the boxes,” Florio said. “That academic side was impeccable and is has a lot of majors I can see myself going into.”