Making The Grade: Charley Hesse

Junior Charley Hesse has big plans for his future both on the field and in his marketing major.

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Photo By Nolan P. Schmidt

If you were to ask a vast majority of college-aged adults about their future plans, there may be some reluctance. It’s no doubt hard to iron out a clear plan for life after college. Some may have an idea, but not a fully formed vision of what their future will look like. Others may have no conception of life beyond school and some may know exactly what the future will hold.


Charley Hesse falls into that third and final category.

Ironing out his future was not a simple task, but the Bison infielder took inspiration from his mother, an account executive at Microsoft. Hesse is striving to do something in sales with his marketing degree from North Dakota State. Given his impressive academic standing, it would seem foolhardy for a potential employer to pass up on the junior.

Hesse’s name is all over the Summit League All-Academic team and he has been named to the conference’s honor roll three years running. It should come as no surprise given the academic reputation the baseball program has built up. Tod Brown’s club received the ABCA Team Academic Excellence Award in 2019-20. The program had a 3.522 cumulative GPA.

What is equally impressive to Hesse’s skills on the diamond is his smarts and commitment to the classroom. After a few short moments, you will quickly learn that Charley Hesse is defined by commitment and hard work, whether it be on the field or in the classroom.

How did you go about settling on marketing as a major?

I knew it had to have something to do with business. When it came to anything with science or math, I was pretty good at it, but I just did not enjoy it at all. I knew it had to be business-related because it was kind of in my blood. My mom is an account executive and she’s in sales for Microsoft and I draw a lot of similarities to her. I figured that marketing would be the closest thing to give me some sort of sales option out of school. I have a marketing degree, but if you ask me what kind of job

I want to get out of school, it’s going to be a sales job. I think I can be really good at that just because it’s all about building relationships and connecting with other people.

How did you come to that conclusion? Was it just one of those things that made sense since you grew up with it in your household?

It really took a while actually. I didn’t have that mindset right away. Obviously, since I was about four years old, I just wanted to play baseball. I’m going to do whatever I end up doing to the best of my ability. I just think that sales has a lot of parallels with athletics, as far as working hard and seeing the dividends paid. Like I said, connections with other people, leadership aspects of the job, all things that I think I’d be really good at, but it really just came down to what I felt my personality matched up with the best.

People always put the spotlight on those on the field accolades, but how valuable or how important is it to you to be recognized for your work in the classroom?

I love it. There’s also a lot of guys on our team that get it as well and it’s one of those things that does go under the radar. Not everybody knows about it, but I love it. It’s one of those things where it’s just another aspect of my life, and you’re trying to attack everything to the best of your ability, right? Of course, I’m going to do the best that I can at baseball, but
I also want to do the best I can at school. That’s part of who I am.

How important is it as a student-athlete to have NDSU’s academic resources available to you at any given time?

It’s been amazing. Especially freshman year because I’m a little bit older now, but freshman year, I had no clue what I was doing. There’s a lot to being a student in college and especially a student-athlete. There’s a lot of hoops you got to jump through as far as things you got to fill out online and all this stuff. That’s really the tricky part for me because sometimes I’ll forget about that. I’ll get a text from Sara Parman and she’ll remind me to fill out whatever I need to have done. Or, if I don’t know how to fill something out, I can text Carter Kruckenberg and he’ll figure it out and help me out with it.

Freshman year, it was bi-weekly meetings to figure out my grades and make sure that everything’s on track and make sure I’m getting all my assignments in. There’s also such a high standard where you have to live up to it.

How did you adjust to that jump from high school where you’re not traveling as much to college life, where you are traveling much more often for competition?

It’s one more thing that kind of goes unnoticed about being a student-athlete. When we’re on a trip, a 12-hour bus trip, you can see guys typing a paper or turning their hotspot on their phone because they got to get an assignment in. It’s just a unique aspect of it. I have taken a lot of online classes and it’s easier that way. At the same time, there’s a lot of responsibility that comes with it. You have to stay up to date, your time management and your planning have to be on point. Sometimes you got to learn stuff on your own. It’s so much easier to be in the class with a teacher, but if you’re not in that class, sometimes you have to go Google something and figure it out for yourself or watch a couple of YouTube videos. And, you know, sometimes that even sticks better, right?

Is there any benefit in your mind to having that extended time away from the field?

Definitely. A big point for me most of the offseason was being healthy. In combination with the spring season, the fall season and then summer ball, you can tend to get dinged up a little bit. It’s a lot of games. Having a little time off to get healthy was nice. Everybody’s got different parts of their game that they need to focus on. For example, I needed to focus in on the mental side of the game. I have to get my head out of my way to just let my physical play take care of itself.

When I had all this time off during quarantine, I did a lot of stuff, whether it was talking to mental coaches, meditation or reading a lot of stuff like that. I did a lot of learning during the quarantine. Of course, you’re lifting and you’re hitting and throwing, but a lot of guys are able to focus on smaller parts of their game. Everybody just came back better.

How much more pressure did the pandemic put on that process? As you were trying to iron out this mental aspect of your game, did that make that process more challenging?

It’s funny, I think it actually probably did the opposite. It made it a little easier for me. A lot of time isolated and alone and time with myself is important. Baseball is such a mental game where you can just go down a rabbit hole in your brain. When you can spend time with yourself and really figure yourself out, it gives you a huge advantage where you can just get comfortable with yourself. You become comfortable being alone, comfortable with your mind kind of going crazy and then learning to settle it because that’s what happens. That’s what’s going to happen because, during that first game, our minds are going to be hyped up. It’s not about the people who are the biggest, strongest hitters. It’s the guy who can find a way to calm themselves mentally and get out of their own way, and just let their play speak for itself.

What do you guys need to do as a team over the course of the next month or so to make sure that you guys are as sharp as possible heading into the season?

It’s probably a common struggle amongst teams across the country, but we are really deep. We have a ton of great guys, a ton of returners and virtually the same team as last year plus more great guys that came in this year. The whole aspect of COVID has really taken a toll on our ability to build team chemistry. When I go home, it’s just me and my roommates and you can only hang out with them. You can’t call a bunch of other teammates over and hang out and bond that way. Our only bonding is practice and weights. I think the biggest thing is going to be not only team chemistry, but also things on the field. Things like bunt defenses, pick-offs and all those little things that have a hint of team chemistry in them as well. Those are things that we need to tighten up before the season starts.

Charley Hesse
Hometown: Mendota Heights, Minn.
Major: Marketing
– 2020 Summit League All-Academic Team
– 2019 Summit League All-Academic Team
– 3x Summit League Honor Roll Member
– 2x Summit League Commissioner’s List of Academic Excellence
– 2020 CoSIDA Academic All-District 6 First Team

Making The Grade: Charley Hesse
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