He's still young, barely old enough for a driver's license, but Teddy Lepcio is close to realizing two of his life goals as a patriot and as a baseball player.
The Baylor School junior has long hoped to follow in his parents' footsteps and become a college athlete. Dad Thad was a golfer at Amherst and mom Lynn Watson Lepcio, a Baylor alumna, played basketball at Wofford.
Young Lepcio, though, has had a lengthy love affair with West Point and a deep desire to serve his country, and now he has committed to play baseball for the Army Black Knights.
"The biggest sacrifice and service you can give is service to your country, and I have always looked up to current soldiers and veterans," he said. "That's always the path I wanted to follow."
Army baseball coach Jim Foster visiting Baylor was merely another step for Lepcio.
"It was already my dream school," the youngster said. "This past August I went up for an unofficial visit with the new coach staff, and then this past October I went up for a prospect camp."
It was at that camp that Lepcio made inroads toward his quest. One of Army's top pitching prospects was on the mound and Lepcio lined a double into the gap. He followed with a long home run.
"Coach Foster asked Teddy why he wanted to attend West Point, and Teddy replied, 'I want to serve my country and play the game I love,'" Thad Lepcio said. "A lot of times kids don't get to do what they have dreamed. The last six or seven years that we have talked about it, he has felt this call to service and he also wants to play."
Teddy says it's been longer than that. He recalls a plastic bat and whiffle ball as a 3- or 4-year-old and remembers that first thoughts of the military weren't far behind.
"Seems like since I was 5 years old," he recalled.
He did look elsewhere, visiting Harvard, Princeton and Georgetown — "I've always wanted to be a politician, too," he said — and before the commitment to Army there were plans to visit Dartmouth and Northwestern.
While baseball occupies much of his time — it's the only sport he plays — Lepcio is far from a one-dimensional student. A member of the student council and the National Honor Society, he writes for the school newspaper and will provide football play-by-play this fall on the Baylor broadcast network. He also serves as captain of the school's mock trial team, all maintaining a 4.17 grade point average. And he scored a 34 on the ACT.
He is now a second-year starter for the baseball Red Raiders, playing first base while normally filling the third or fourth spot in the batting order.
It is a high baseball IQ that sets him apart — that and a drive to excel.
For one so driven, Lepcio has had to come to terms with the idea that a batter can fail seven times in 10 and still be considered a success.
While he is not the fastest baserunner, he is a thinking man's player.
"I'm not going to overpower anybody with my athleticism," he confided. "I might make a great play here and there, but when you're not the most athletic you have to pick it up in other places."
Foster recognized Lepcio's will to win and his baseball acumen and told Lepcio that it was the athletic ability he needed to work on.
"So every day that's what I work on," Lepcio said. "It's about getting better and giving myself a better opportunity to make the 35-man roster when I go up there in June of 2018."
Contact Ward Gossett at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-886-4765. Follow him at Twitter.com/wardgossett.