Rick’s Sports Corner: Devan McGivern, Ready For Anything

The Burroughs graduate was prepared for any assignment on the mound and is playing at Morningside University in Iowa.

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By Rick Assad

Whenever Devan McGivern was called into a baseball game, whether as a starting pitcher, long man out of the bullpen or closer, the Burroughs High graduate and current player at Morningside University in Sioux City, Iowa, which is governed by the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, was always ready to deliver the goods.

“I felt that my role on the team was showing up every day with the ability to be able to come in a game at any point and create success for my team,” said McGivern, a hurler with uncanny control and a key piece to the puzzle when the team captured the CIF Southern Section Division V championship with a 1-0 win over Moreno Valley in May of 2022 at the Cal State Fullerton baseball field. “Early in the year, I fell into a role as the third starter whenever a start was needed. Later in the year, [Nick] Forrest and [Gunnar] Nichols did a great job throwing late into games which shifted my role to relieve them. Again, this meant to be ready at any moment in any game for however long I was needed.”

When the situation was dire, McGivern, a three-year varsity player for the Bears and a captain his senior campaign, felt confident regardless of the potential uphill battle.

“I believe what made me a successful high school pitcher was, firstly, being brought into the program,” he said. “This means sacrificing myself for the better of the team. Guys who put in the work every night at practice and did things the right way had success at the high school level.”

Being an integral part of the Bears’ championship team is something that has given McGivern, who was given the Matthew Pavelka Scholarship Award by the Burbank Police Officers’ Association in April 2022, a true sense of fulfillment.

“It is tough to put into words what the championship season meant to everyone. It was truly an extraordinary experience for everyone involved, including the players, coaching staff, parents, and fans,” he said. “At the beginning of every season, the goal for the team is to win a championship. For over 70 years, the Burroughs varsity baseball team has not been able to accomplish that feat. So, for us to have a goal in mind and be privileged enough to have the chance to play for the championship and win it, it means a whole lot.”

Devan McGivern with the CIF Southern Section championship plaque. (Photo by Austin Gebhardt)

How was that team able to accomplish something no other Burroughs baseball had ever done in the school’s history?

“Like I said, we had our eyes on that championship from the first day of practice. It is possible that some members of the team didn’t believe it could be attained but as the year went on, things had changed,” McGivern pointed out. “When we started our [Pacific] League season winning the first seven games, we knew we were a competitive team. Our talent mixed with great leadership and a belief that no one could beat us led our team to that championship.”

Being blessed with on the field talent is necessary, but other ingredients are also important, and that team had it.

“Having talent is, of course, an important ingredient for success in athletics. However, I do believe that in any aspect of your life confidence can change your outcomes,” McGivern noted. “Our coaches would preach hard work and positive self-talk throughout the year. I believe that I have both of these ingredients and when I’m on the mound, I’m the best man for the situation. Knowing the work I put in every day will display itself as talent and my confidence always staying high helped me tremendously.”

Going to the baseball diamond and playing the game isn’t how successful teams work. There’s off the field preparation.

“The day of a game starts the night before. I am a strong believer in confidence and visualization. Coach [Matt] Magallon had taught us how to visualize ourselves having success and that played a vital role in preparing for a game,” McGivern said. “During the day, I like to keep my mind clear and stay focused on our goal for the day, to win the baseball game. Before the game, I would say a prayer of gratitude and wish myself and my teammates good fortune on the baseball field.”

That Bears’ baseball team was deep and especially on the mound, which delighted Magallon because he always had options.

“He is a great leader that did everything that was asked of him. We had him as a starter in the beginning of the year and a mid-reliever towards the end of the season,” said. “When we hit the playoffs, we had him close out games that were close. He did everything that was needed.”

Devan McGivern could start, relieve and close for the Bears. (Photo by Austin Gebhardt)

Magallon knew McGivern’s value to the team was immense because it allowed that he could be flexible.

“We do not win without him,” he pointed out. “He was our go-to guy out of the pen and we were lucky to have him.”

The jump from high school baseball to college is significant and though the game is the same, it really isn’t.

“Not only is the school and social life drastic from high school, but the game of baseball has many differences as well. It is refreshing to be around a baseball atmosphere 24/7 and having guys around who put as much care and effort into the game as I do,” McGivern said. “Playing a full season in college, I have learned true passion for the game and most importantly, the right way to go about things on and off the field.”

Even with the difference between high school and college, McGivern wouldn’t pass up the opportunity to pitch on a college mound.

“Being on a college baseball team is one of the most exciting, adventurous, and humbling experiences I have ever had. It truly is in a way life changing,” he said. “The connections and friendships I have made with my teammates along with my coaches was something I could not expect. It is an immense amount of fun to learn, live, eat, and play baseball with the same group of guys on a daily basis. Our team is our brotherhood and it has taught me many things that will carry on to my later life.”

For McGivern, there are few things more enjoyable than being on the mound, even when the situation seems daunting.

“The mound can be a lonely place for sure and all pitchers have been there. When things got rough, I liked to breathe deep, ground myself, and enjoy the moment,” he said. “Like I said, our pitchers put in a lot of work that championship year and when we take a breath and simplify everything, that work will show itself. Our coaches also preached having a focal point on the field. Everyone was different but this is something that is on every baseball field we would play at. Personally, mine was the third base bag. When things got rough, I would take a look and remind myself that I’m playing a game that I work on every day.”

These moments when the pitcher faces the batter and the stakes are high made it all worthwhile for McGivern, and especially if the result goes the hurler’s way, which it did most of the time for the young right-hander.

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