To any given Spring Street pedestrian strolling past the glass walls of Pappa Charlie’s last Monday, it may have looked like I was on a date with Dylan Griswold ’15. And after two breakfast specials’ worth of conversation, I can safely say that a romantic lunch with this week’s “One in 2000” is nothing short of an honor. Tucked into those twin wooden benches, he and I talked about everything from his new on-campus religious group – Ephs for Christ – to his cockatiel sidekick. It went a little something like this.
Dyl, any ideas as to why you’re this week’s “One in 2000”?
Well, I have no idea, but I am excited. Really, everyone here is ”One in 2000”; you could interview anyone and they’d have a unique story, they’d have something interesting about them. But I guess I was chosen for my mystique.
Fair enough! I gotta ask, why the Towson Gymnastics t-shirt?
I have two sisters! And one is a freshman at Towson where she is a competitive gymnast; the other is in high school back home in Munson, Mass.
Close by! Do you head home often?
Christmas and Thanksgiving only. My mom would want me back there a whole lot more, I think. But we text every day, so it all works out.
So, you and your family are very close?
That’s an understatement; we’re incredibly close.
[Just then, our piping hot sausage, egg and cheeses arrive, and Griswold bows his head and folds his hands.]
It’s just something I do each time before I eat.
Gotcha. So tell me a little more about that. You recently started a religious organization on campus, right?
So Athletes Bible Study was an organization last year, but it sort of got disbanded. I got an e-mail from a staff member of Athletes in Action asking if I’d like to start a chapter at Williams College. So obviously I prayed about it for a while and tried to discern what God’s will for it was. Ultimately, I went ahead and got [Head Baseball] Coach [Bill] Barrale’s backing and support. We’ve really gotten going and have about 25 to 30 athletes coming now. It’s just a nice way to support each other and grow stronger in our faith. I became Catholic when I was a senior in high school, but I was raised Protestant. I took a leave of absence from my faith for about five or six years when my family stopped going to church, though.
So how did you find your way back?
For a while I prayed once in a while, but it wasn’t a major aspect of my life. Then, once I’d gotten through my first year of high school, I realized I’d just wasted it doing things I wasn’t proud of. The next year, I went through some tough times, family issues and problems in other areas of my life. Honestly, I had nowhere else to go but down onto my knees, and since then, it’s been an amazing journey living life with God.
Since this is such a big part of your life, do you think it’s become an identifier for you? You know, like one of your tag lines? “Funny, baseball player, Catholic?”
I see that, but as far as my “tag lines” are concerned, I don’t want to be defined in three words. No one wants to be just a list of things. It’s helpful to identify someone like that, but if someone were first meeting me, I would want them to come away from that first interaction with a smile, thinking, “Hmmm, that guy was a little bit different.” I’d want them to know me as someone who shows them love.
For sure. So I heard from Kelso Stevens ’15 that your road to the College is an especially awesome story. Can I hear it from the horse’s mouth?
Well, I actually didn’t even know that Williams existed until November of my senior year and had actually already told the coach at Johns Hopkins that I would play there. But something didn’t sit well with me about that. I remember sitting at my computer the day before I had to send in my paperwork, but I felt uneasy. And something came into my head and told me to e-mail the baseball coach at Williams.
No way! Coach Barrale?
Yup! I called at 7:30 at night, and to my surprise, he picks up! Somehow, Coach and I get into this huge conversation about God and how we’re both on the same spiritual journey of non-denominational Christianity. My mind was being blown … What are the chances that I call this guy, and not only does he answer, but he has a conversation with me about God? After that, I trusted that this was where God was leading me, and nothing else mattered. Ultimately, it put my mind at such peace knowing that this was where I was supposed to be.
It sounds like you and Barrale really hit it off. How has it been playing for him since you’ve been here?
I mean, Williams baseball has been such a blessing. The first thing I noticed spending those first months with these guys is that they just love each other. There’s no judgment involved with us, you know? We say what’s on our minds and support each other regardless.
What’s been one highlight of being on the team then?
I know the boys will get a chuckle out of this, but I’ll tell it anyways. It came time for us to share goals for the season one day after practice last spring. I was the first one to raise my hand. And I’m like, “My goal for this year is that I just want to have fun playing baseball with my friends.” Everyone starts dying laughing, and Coach has no idea what to do. He was expecting some statistical goal or something like going 8-0. I’ve been so caught up with that my whole life, and now, baseball is an outlet. To be able to take two or three hours a day to work out with your teammates is such a great blessing. I’m teased about saying it to this day, but it’s the reality.
What else do you do with free time here? What are some other de-stressers?
If I’ve got free time, I’d like to spend it other ways. Spend more time practicing piano. I started taking lessons a few years ago, and it’s a work in progress.
If you were to give me an impromptu recital, what would you play?
My best performance song would be the old famous Titanic love song, “My Heart Will Go On”; I am a really big Celine Dion fan.
It’s funny you say that! The team has made me eliminate marriage from my vocabulary.
No way! Why is that?
I am kind of a romantic when it comes to all that; I look forward to getting married. But I admit I may be over eager in that regard, and so it was eliminated last year. I’ll meet a girl and we’ll make eye contact and get butterflies. Then I’ll text Kirby [Neuner ’15]: “Dude, I think I just fell in love.”
Any lucky life partners in mind, then?
Well, I actually have a cockatiel named Spike. I got him when I was in third grade, and he’s pretty much my best friend. But it turned out that Spike is not a boy, so I guess my relationship with my bird is the longest I’ve ever been in with a girl!
Sounds like a supportive relationship, nonetheless!
Yeah, when I am home she doesn’t stay in her cage at all. When we sleep, she sleeps next to my pillow on my bed. Occasionally, she will eat out of the same dish as me, and the rest of the time, she’ll just be resting on my shoulder. I keep a picture of her and me up in my room. It was taken during my fourth grade chubby phase, and it says “Silly Spikers” along the top.
So is all your love saved up for Spike?
Not at all! I am someone who will always give you as much love as I possibly can. I would want everyone reading this to see me as someone they can go to if they’re ever struggling with or dealing with something. I want people to understand that there is a lot more to this guy than what he believes or does on campus. I really pride myself most on how I treat people.