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The Daily Utah Chronicle

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The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Extra Maio: Ute Pitcher Has an Extra Presence On and Off Field

A starting pitcher’s mentality compared to a relief pitcher’s is completely different.

Not only does the pitcher have to pitch more innings, but he can’t go as hard at every batter since the pitcher has to worry about stamina and fatigue.

Making the transition from the bullpen to taking the hill at the beginning of the game is seemingly impossible to many, however, U senior Mitch Maio was able to successfully make the change after being the primary closer for his first three years in a Ute uniform.

“It’s a crazy switch, especially after being in the bullpen for so long, and all I wanted to concentrate on was getting through the first three innings [of his first start] against Washington,” Maio said.

Not only did he get through those first three innings, he pitched a complete game and only allowed 3 earned runs.

“I just didn’t want to come out of the game, and it was working for me,” Maio said. “I didn’t have the joint pain that pitchers usually talked about, but the muscle pain really killed.”

It doesn’t work for everyone, but there has been one difference that Maio has that separates him from the rest of the pack.

His mentality.

“Mitch always goes out there to win the game; no matter how he is feeling, he is going to make the opposing team beat him,” said U baseball coach Tim Esmay.

Maio did not need as much help as one might expect in making such a huge leap.

“I just try to help him on the little things like warming up, but he knows what is going on, and he teaches us more than we teach him,” said Ute pitcher Jason Wylie. “He leads by example and usually never needs help.”

Leading by example has not just been bounded to baseball for Maio. It has been filtered into his involvement with the Utah Men Against Sexual Violence, an organization which recognizes women are sexually assaulted at a horrendous rate, tries to raise awareness of the issue, and calls for men to take an active stance against sexual violence.

He has gotten many fellow athletes into the organization, and also has had a positive impact on his those who are involved in his life.

“Most people think that Mitch became involved in this type of volunteer work because of a personal experience that he had with rape,” said Monica Maio, who is the crisis prevention specialist at the Utah Rape Recovery Center and also Mitch’s mother.

The true source of Maio’s involvement with the Rape Recover Center, and then UMASV, though, came from his mother’s and his sister’s involvement in the Rape Recovery Center.

“I studied women’s studies and wanted to volunteer, so my mother and I went to the recovery center, and it felt so good that we worked their full time, and Mitch started to come with us to help us out,” said Marlene Maio, who is Mitch’s sister and the director of Preventive Education at the Rape Recovery Center.

Marlene Maio’s job was to go out to schools and educate students on rape. However, her message was not getting across to many of the people she was trying to reach.

“Many of the male students didn’t take her seriously, and that is where Mitch got involved,” Monica Maio said. “Mitch was able to relate to kids since he was a jock; he just seemed like one of the guys and they listened to him.”

Being a male speaking out on rape was something out of the ordinary, but he knew it was the right thing to do.

“It makes me feel good being involved in this type of work, because of the fact that women are usually the victims of sexual attacks and I understand that,” Mitch Maio said.

There might even be a subconscious reason for Maio’s attitude, because he has had a special kinship with women ever since the day he was born.

“Mitch was born with a twin sister, and we like to tease him, saying they were married at birth, but those two are very close, and that might have filtered into his caring about this type of stuff,” Monica Maio said.

Either way, Maio does this type of work to better those himself and his friends and family.

He has not cared about what anyone else has thought of him, as he has done so many things that many might never see an athlete do, such as planting a tree at Franklin Covey Field to recognize men that are raped, as well as going to a Gay Pride Parade.

“Many people might question Mitch after they see him go to a Gay Pride Parade, but he is just recognizing that these people get harassed, yet they shouldn’t,” Monica Maio said. “Even his father questioned it, since he feared that many would try to attack Mitch, but the next year, even his father went to the parade.”

His leadership skills have centered around not caring what others think of him, but doing what is right.

Those are the same leadership skills which have allowed him to be one of the best third-day starters in the Mountain West Conference.

His sights are now set towards seeing his team make it to the NCAA Regionals for the first time in Utah baseball history.

“I’ve been through so much here, but now I finally feel that we are all on the same page after the BYU series,” Mitch Maio said. “Even though we got the loss, even though I gave up a lot of runs, we still played as one unit and someone had to lose that game, but I feel that we can learn from that.”

That same attitude has spread throughout his team, and has allowed the Utes to have the attitude that they can beat anyone.

“Mitch knows what is going on and helps us all with a lot of stuff,” said starting pitcher Cheyenne Rushton. “I feel like we can beat anyone in this conference.”

His mentality is what allows him to be the chairman for UMASV, it allows him to change from a relief pitcher to a starting pitcher, and it allows him to be leader of the baseball team.

“Whenever he goes out on the hill, this whole team expects us to win the game,” Esmay said.

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