Every year, college students look forward to winter break to get away from school and classes so they can spend time with friends and family during the holidays. It’s no different for Northwestern University sophomore baseball player Alex Calarco – though, for him, there is no time for a break.

Brothers Anthony (left) and Alex Calarco were teammates on the Northwestern baseball team last season. Anthony has transferred to Ole Miss for his final collegiate season. Credit: Submitted

Most of Calarco’s time has been spent in Northwestern’s baseball facilities with his teammates. But during this time, he has also been accompanied by his best friend – his brother Anthony.

The brothers grew up in Wilmette and both played for New Trier High School. Anthony was in the class of 2018 and Alex was class of 2021.

After four great years with the Northwestern baseball team, Anthony transferred this past summer to the 2022 NCAA national baseball champion Ole Miss Rebels at the University ion Mississippi for his final collegiate baseball season. Now, with Anthony back home for the holidays, Alex wasted no time utilizing his brother’s veteran advice.

“It’s great to have him back, honestly. It’s like a little check-in with me to make sure I’m moving in the right direction,” Alex said.

“There’s some harsh critique – it’s all brotherly love but, I mean, he gets me right. He gives me critiques on my swing that I need to get better at. There’s a little bit of competition underlying in there, of course, but it’s all in good heart. He just wants to help me do the best I can.”

There’s a tradition of swing critiques in the Calarco family, starting lots of batting practice with their dad, John Calarco. “I love hitting,” Alex said. “Hitting has been what me, my brother, and my dad have bonded over throughout my life. We have spent many hours together in the cage.”

Alex Calarco behind the plate at a fall Northwestern practice. Credit: Northwestern Instagram

A power-hitting catcher, Alex says that hitting home runs remains his favorite part of the game. But that doesn’t take away from his focus defensively. With the help of new head coach Jim Foster, Calarco is finding his groove behind the plate.

“Recently, Coach Foster has really instilled this love for catching and that work in the cage off the machine. I have really enjoyed the receiving machine and catching, so that has really taken my game to the next level, I feel.”

The upcoming season will be very important for Calarco and the Wildcats, who have high hopes going into the new year. With a rejuvenated roster from top to bottom, the team is confident it will take the next step, Calarco said.

“I would say the vibe in the locker room is really high,” he said. “I think our starting nine is going to be very good. Our arms compared to last year are going to be a lot better and a lot deeper too. We are going to have a Friday guy, a Saturday guy, a Sunday guy, relievers, a closer. Very excited to get it going.”

During the break, Calarco and his teammates are grinding it out and doing what they can to improve each day. This is the time of year when no one is watching, and it is up to them to get as much work in as possible before everyone formally returns on Jan. 3.

Calarco says that “Christmas came early” for the boys, with new gear before the break and the promise of seven new uniforms coming their way provided some additional motivation.

For Calarco though, the motivation is always there. Recovering from Tommy John surgery, he had to miss most of his first-year season with Northwestern. He has what he calls a “nagging urge” to get back on the field in Evanston.

This year will be essentially his first real season playing for his school, and he is primed to lead the team; he hopes to become a team captain while making a name for himself in the sport.

“I just really want to prove myself,” he said. “I know what I can accomplish and do, but I don’t think the rest of the Big Ten or the rest of the baseball world knows my full capability. I am just really excited to get out there and prove myself and show what I can do and what this team can do.”

Join the Conversation

1 Comment

The RoundTable will try to post comments within a few hours, but there may be a longer delay at times. Comments containing mean-spirited, libelous or ad hominem attacks will not be posted. Your full name and email is required. We do not post anonymous comments. Your e-mail will not be posted.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *