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Simonian joins exclusive Ivy League squad

Trevor Simonian (middle) poses with four of his teammates as they hold up Big Heads of him on the Sharks’ senior night. This fall, Simonian is headed to the University of Pennsylvania, where he will play baseball and intends to major in finance. Suzy Demeter/22nd Century Media
Malibu’s Trevor Simonian grins from ear to ear as he sports a University of Pennsylvania sweatshirt. Simonian snatched one of seven spots on the Ivy League school’s baseball team this fall. Photo Submitted
Erin Redmond, Assistant Editor
8:02 am PDT June 14, 2017

To say Trevor Simonian had a stellar season would be an understatement. 

The senior captain of Malibu High’s baseball team helped power his team into the postseason and earned numerous accolades, but his biggest accomplishment was achieving a dream more than 13 years in the making: earning a spot on the ultra-exclusive roster at the University of Pennsylvania.

As an Ivy League rule, athletic scholarships are not granted, however, a spot on the team can be. And at Penn, only seven spots are offered each season, with Simonian being one of the chosen few this year.  

“I was so excited; it was a dream come true,” the 18-year-old catcher/outfielder said. “ ... I loved everything about the school and the baseball program, so it was definitely a dream come true. I played really well in front of the coaches and I was really excited about that opportunity.”

Simonian, who was named First Team All-Tri-Valley League and MVP for both baseball and football, will attend the Ivy League school just as his father, Leonard, did. And while having his son over 2,700 miles from home will be an adjustment, Leonard said it’s a little easier knowing he’ll be at his alma mater.

“He [has] always wanted to go east and go to a great school and play baseball,” Leonard said. “It was really kind of, pun intended, a home run that it came through. We’re excited for him. I went to Penn myself, so it gives me a really good excuse to get to go back and visit campus and watch my son play baseball.”

Simonian was an integral part of the Sharks’ success this year, amassing 36 hits — including nine doubles, two triples and four home runs — 30 RBI and 21 runs to help them reach the California Interscholastic Federation-Southern Section Division 6 semifinals. His success on the field was due to all the work he had put in during his junior year and in the offseason. 

During his junior season, Simonian hit the weight room five to six days a week in order to build muscle and add power to his natural talent. His work didn’t go unnoticed either. When he attended his first baseball camp last summer, coaches instantly commented on how much bigger and stronger he looked.

But weight lifting was only part of the equation. 

Simonian worked closely with his hitting coach, and the Simonians even put a batting cage in their backyard for extra practice. From June to August of 2016, Simonian and his family criss-crossed the country so he could display his skills in front of recruiters and coaches at nine different college baseball camps, showcases and tournaments in seven different states. 

“All credit to him, he [has] really kind of earned this. I think anybody who has watched him play growing up through Little League through PONY [Baseball], through high school would say the same thing,” Leonard said. “He did it himself. He put in the time, he put in the hard work and it paid off in how he played last summer in the college showcase tour and how he played this spring and I think he definitely earned the spot to be a D-I baseball player.”  

Landing that spot on Penn’s roster wasn’t earned on baseball alone either. 

In order to earn admittance into an Ivy League school, Simonian had to hit the books just as hard as he hits the baseball. The average GPA of those admitted to Penn is a 3.93 and with a 9.4 percent acceptance rate, Simonian said he knew he had to bring his A-game academically, too. 

“I knew how competitive it was and how many other people wanted those spots,” he said. “I knew I had to go a step above all the other players because they wanted the same thing. I think I did that in every aspect, especially in the classroom and that took a lot of time. I had to balance baseball, training and academics. I think what made me unique is that I was still able to balance all of that.”

Simonian will major in finance at Penn’s Wharton School of Business while vying for a starting role on the Quakers squad. He said he is excited to meet new people and experience life on the East Coast. But he is most excited to play baseball at the highest collegiate level and finally realize the dream he has had since first picking up a bat at 5 years old. 

“I’m definitely very proud of myself because I know that all the hard work ... with the big change starting my junior year is a testament to how hard I worked,” he said. “It made me feel really good knowing that I went above and beyond and all the hard work I put in all aspects of my game paid off. I always knew that I could do it, but seeing it all come together at the end is definitely great.”

And he’s not the only one who’s proud. 

Leonard has watched his son grow from T-baller to a D-I athlete and said proud doesn’t even begin to describe how he feels about his son’s transformation.
“I’ve been lucky to get to go along for the ride with him and watch him grow,” Leonard said. “I got to coach him a little bit when he was in Little League, which was a lot of fun. For the last four-plus years when he was in PONY and in high school, I’ve just been watching and enjoying it. I’m so excited that I get to watch my favorite baseball player for four more years.”