Four-sport athlete turned military man: Pius H.S. star to become a Marine

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- There is a lot of down time in the game of baseball. An outfielder, in particular, can wait for long periods of time before having to react instantly and make the right decision. For one local high school player, that's perfect preparation for what he plans to do next.

The Pius High School baseball team is rebuilding this year and Mike Simonis sees himself as a leader to the team's many underclassmen. He is wrapping up a full athletic career for the Popes on the diamond.

"One of my four sports I play. At Pius, I did baseball, football, wrestling and track. This is maybe my second favorite sport. My favorite sport is football. I like it because you can hit people," Simonis said.

This time of year, Simonis settles for hitting a baseball -- and patrolling the outfield. He says he enjoys "everything" about playing left field.

"You get to observe the game, you get to watch and be really disciplined out there. In my opinion, it's the best position out there," Simonis said.

Listen to Simonis for even a short period of time and you would say you can see the military in his future. But watch him over time, in a program like baseball, and there's no surprise at all.

"When you talk to this young man, he exemplifies leadership, discipline we talk about, and how to be a man," Popes Head Coach Kevin Kehoss said.

"I work out a lot. I work out a lot. I work out three times a day -- usually about four or five hours a day. I want to be a Marine -- and you've got to be in shape," Simonis said.

There was really no doubt what type of career path Simonis would take.

"I was four years old and I wanted to be a United States Marine. My father was in the military and I was reading a book and I said 'hey Dad, who is that guy?' And he said 'that's a United States Marine,' and I said 'oh, kinda cool!' And he said 'yeah, the toughest branch there' -- so I said, 'why not? If I'm going to go into the military, why not be the best?'" Simonis said.

Statistically, seven out of 10 applicants for the Marines are rejected, but Simonis made the cut. He heads to San Diego at the end of October to start his training for the infantry.

"I got there for 13 weeks -- get yelled at a lot. What I want to do is be a Marine, so whatever it takes," Simonis said.

If a foul ball gets away at Pius' practice, it takes someone to get it. Simonis isn't too proud to think that can't be him.

In baseball, there are literal and figurative sacrifices for the good of the team -- just as in the military.

There is also a collective understanding of conduct.

"No one screws around, but we do have a lot of fun. There's a difference between messing around and being an idiot," Simonis said.