The cold weather can get rough and the lack of good local food is even worse. But Nick Wong won’t complain.
This is the life the 2007 Roosevelt graduate chose, even if he’s looking forward to coming home.
The Colorado School of Mines senior wanted to get away for four years of college, even if it meant a completely different lifestyle from the one he was used to in Hawaii.
His time in Colorado has been "an eye-opening experience," but one that has changed him for the good.
PROFILE | Nick Wong
» School: Colorado School of Mines
» Class: senior
» Position: outfielder
» Height: 5 feet 8
» High school: Roosevelt (2007)
» Notes: Started 116 games for the Orediggers heading into his senior year; hit .324 as a sophomore and .320 as a junior, finishing second in the conference with 17 stolen bases; made the All-Rocky Mountain Conference third team twice; first-team All-OIA Red East selection as a high school senior; graduated magna cum laude from Roosevelt.
"It has really made me appreciate living in the islands a lot more," he said. "You don’t appreciate the people and the atmosphere that comes with living in Hawaii until you go away, but it’s an experience you have to live through."
A standout at Roosevelt, where he earned first-team All-OIA Red East baseball honors as a senior, Wong wanted a good mix of athletics and academics at whichever college he decided to attend.
He said the West Coast was too much like Hawaii, and ultimately decided on the Colorado School of Mines.
"It just seemed like the right fit for me," he said.
Entering his final year of eligibility, it sure seems that way. Wong is not only on track to graduate in May, but is on pace to play in more than 150 collegiate games.
He started 43 games as a freshman, and the only thing that has kept him off the field is a broken jaw that ended his sophomore season early.
"It was off a foul tip in a game and hit me right in the face," Wong said. "I didn’t have to wire my jaw shut, but the oral surgeon pretty much shoved all my teeth right back in.
"It was not a fun experience."
It was a quick end to a season in which Wong raised his batting average from .243 as a freshman to .324 with nine stolen bases and 22 RBIs.
As a junior, Wong was one of only three Orediggers to start all 39 games, hitting .320 and leading the team with 17 stolen bases, second most in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference.
Although he’s been one of the Orediggers’ top players, it hasn’t translated to many wins. The Orediggers are only 22-64 over the past two seasons.
"It’s been a big change coming from home where you’re used to winning and not having the best of seasons," Wong said. "My freshman year a new coach stepped in and we’ve been rebuilding the entire time, but now he’s got his guys and his system set and the outlook for this year is pretty good."
Wong’s goals include making the all-conference team and playing in a playoff game, but no matter what happens, the senior is content with this being his final year of baseball.
"It’s something I’ve been doing basically my entire life, but at some point you have to realize that it’s been a good run and that you won’t be able to play at this high of a level again," Wong said. "I think this is my last stand, then it’s back to AJA (in Hawaii)."
Instead of playing baseball, Wong has spent his past summers at home relaxing and working internships to prepare for the end of this year, when it’ll be time to stay home for good.
"I’ve been away for long enough," he said. "It’s time for me to come home."