The back-to-back high school state champion on a partial baseball scholarship to ASU has seen his career stray from the good path, but he’s trying to rebound.
Redshirt freshman pitcher Nick Diamond began his first semester in the fall of 2012 but was quickly sucked into ASU’s party scene and then released from the team the first week of his second semester.
“I just didn’t feel comfortable with myself, and I guess I just turned to drinking,” Diamond said.
Pitching coach Ken Knutson said Diamond was having some problems in his dorm, running late to weight training and showing signs that he was struggling. Knutson and the coaching staff told Diamond he had to get things together and live up to the standards of an ASU baseball player before he could play for the team again.
“We didn’t want it to be the end, but he needed to get his life together and do the right thing,” Knutson said.
The 19-year-old checked into the Wilderness Treatment Center in Marion, Mont., on Jan. 20.
“It was my choice to check into rehab, because I had lost pretty much everything,” Diamond said.
Diamond’s treatment lasted 65 days, which included a 17-day trek into the Rocky Mountains, a week dedicated to rebuilding his relationship with his parents, five hours of counseling per day and hardly any communication with friends back home.
“The whole experience was very humbling and taught me a lot of delayed gratitude,” he said.
Diamond has been sober for nine months and counting. He said he feels free, more relaxed and a lot happier.
“My life is a lot more simple now,” he said.
Over the past several months, Diamond has put an immense amount of effort into getting back onto the Sun Devil baseball team. He stayed in contact with coaches and appealed to Pac-12 officials to become eligible again. In addition, he had to make amends with the University.
Diamond said he is on watch by his teammates this year, and is determined to stay on the right track. He said his teammates hold him accountable.
Diamond’s best friend and teammate, sophomore outfielder Cullen Odwyer, said he was sad to see Diamond ‘s season cut short.
“He was out of control, had no self-discipline and didn’t care about anything besides partying,” Odwyer said.
Diamond’s actions did not only affect himself and his team but his family as well.
Diamond’s older brother Jack said he learned a lot about his brother through the whole process, including how resilient he is.
“I think that we both had a lot of resentment toward each other while he wasn’t sober,” Jack said.
He could have given up but he fought through itand has grown up to be a special young man, Jack said.
“Nick being sober has definitely brought us closer together,”he said.
Diamond said the two most difficult parts of his path toward sobriety were coming clean with his parents and proving himself to his coaches. He’s received a lot of support from his parents, and his coaches are very happy with the progress he has made.
The young baseball player does not let his past interfere with his social life, as he has found coping mechanisms, such as drinking Red Bull at social gatherings.
“It’s a little awkward at first, but it’s a good reminder of how I used to be,” he said.
Diamond said even though it is hard to get sober at such a young age, it can be done even in a college environment with enough willpower.
The determined athlete is more proud than ever to wear his No. 30 jersey and represent his school both on and off campus. Diamond is back on the field and putting all of his energy into bettering himself as a person and as a baseball player. The left-handed pitcher has been reinstated to the team and has set high goals for this season.
Knutson said Diamond went down the wrong path for a while, but his behavior has straightened out and people are able to see Diamond for the person he truly is.
Not only is Diamond talented, he has a knack for interacting with people, Knutson said.
“People like him and are drawn to him,” he said.
The team has started practicing and scrimmaging in preparation for the season.
“Everything to this point has led me to believe he will do just fine, and we expect good things from him this season,” Knutson said.
Diamond has been given a second chance, Knutson said, and added that he is already a valued part of the team, because everyone appreciates how far he has come.
“He’s really been an inspiration to the team with what he has gone through,” Knutson said. “It’s day-to-day and we are all rooting for him as much as possible.”
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