Former Boise star turns heartbreak into opportunity on the prairies
Stu Flesland slept in late on the morning of Thursday, July 2 only to wake up to bad news.
The phone call from one of his teammates telling him the shocking news that Boise State’s baseball program had been cut along with other sports such as swimming and diving.
The Boise State athletic department emailed the team explaining the impetus behind the unexpected decision and according to the school it boiled down to finances.
“They said it was for financial reasons,” Flesland said. “They didn’t say anything about COVID, but that it was for financial reasons. They said the teams that got cut, baseball and the swim team, were not sustainable.”
In statements released by the athletic department at the time, the disbanding of baseball, and swimming and diving would save the school over 3 million dollars.
Flesland, the opening day starter for the Badlands Big Sticks earlier this summer, was a freshman at Boise State heading into the spring before the coronavirus pandemic soured any hopes of being a Bronco standout in his first year.
He had appeared in four games at Boise State, who were 9-5, with two starts before the decision came. At the time, Flesland maintained a 3.38 ERA and had 15 strikeouts in nearly 11 innings on the bump.
Hunter Omlid and Matt Gabbert, also pitchers for the Big Sticks, were in the same situation as they were teammates of Flesland at Boise State.
To make matters worse and even more emotional, the 2020 season was the first season for the Broncos baseball team in 40 years — the first season since the disbanding following the 1980 season.
For older fans, the latest cut was not a novelty because they had experienced cuts as Boise recently cut wrestling in 2017 to revive baseball.
After a two plus year build up, anticipations were high as the Broncos would finally have a Division I baseball team, the only one in the state of Idaho — and just as sudden as the team appeared, it was gone once again.
“To be honest, I have no idea why they decided to cut baseball. We played only 14 games and we played well. We were just coming together as a program and we had won several games,” Flesland said. “In the future, I am definitely going to miss Boise State. I met a lot of great people and I loved all my teammates. When I heard the news it was kind of a shocker. I didn’t know it was going to happen, but I was lucky enough to start getting some calls from other schools and land on my feet.”
The Colbert, Wa. native picked Boise State out of high school because he wanted to help build a program from the ground up and cement a legacy for future generations in a competitive conference, but his aspirations were gutted just as the Freshman got comfortable with the college lifestyle.
Less than two weeks after a life changing experience, he committed to his home state school at the University of Washington.
Flesland said it feels good to go back and play in his home state and that the Huskies have a good baseball program. The competition in the Pac 12 is also something that he looks forward to as he will be eligible for four more years, due to an NCAA ruling giving athletes in spring sports their season back for 2020.
He knows that dwelling on the negative situation is unproductive, so instead he wants to move forward from it with a great 2020 summer season with the Big Sticks.
Even though he continues to struggle with the decision, he said his time in Boise will always be a part of him. He does not know when or if he will ever fully have closure though.
“I don’t know when I will get over it,” he said. “The city of Boise is great and the people who supported us were great. The only people that I am a little upset with is the athletic department and how they decided to cut us so short and not give us a chance. Other than that I liked everyone in Boise.”