Matt Dunham will ride out his baseball career for as long as it lasts, but he’s not ready to give up football yet.
The versatile standout from Sierra said he’ll play both sports at Modesto Junior College. From there, he hopes to continue playing baseball for a four-year university.
“I just have a love for football,” Dunham said. “The aggression and brutality, it is kind of imbedded in me. I’ve played football my whole life. Baseball is something I picked up later in life but I picked up on it quick.”
The 2019 calendar year was special for Dunham.
Last spring, he was involved in several clutch moments for the Timberwolves baseball team as it ran the table in the highly-competitive Valley Oak League. Sierra finished 21-4-1 and lost to eventual Sac-Joaquin Section Division III champion Ponderosa in the second round of the playoffs.
Dunham was voted VOL Defensive Player of the Year for his impressive work at center field.
“I didn’t even know I was going to get Defensive Player of the Year,” Dunham said. “That was astonishing to me. It meant a lot and I hoped to do even better this year.”
Dunham said the 2020 baseball season was a “make-or-break” situation for him. Although the T’wolves got only eight games in, going 5-3, Dunham had done enough catch MJC’s attention. He just wanted more chances to improve on his offensive production from 2019 when he batted .333.
“I grinded out in the offseason to work on my hitting, especially going oppo (opposite field),” Dunham said. “I had high expectations for myself and the team coming off a 12-0 season. We were shooting for a section ring.”
He isn’t going away empty-handed.
That’s because in the fall, he starred on Sierra’s SJS Division IV championship football team. The Timberwolves stunned VOL rival Oakdale 22-19 in the title game before losing to Rancho Cotate in a California Interscholastic Federation NorCal Bowl Game.
A multi-purpose threat at slotback on offense and hard-hitting linebacker on defense, Dunham was named All-VOL Co-Utility Player of the Year.
“That was a heck of a ride,” he said. “The season was crazy, but we definitely saw it coming early in the season. We were pretty hungry. Whether we won or lost, teams remembered us. We played with nothing to lose and went out with a bang.”
It wasn’t enough to make up for the baseball season wiped away by the COVID-19 pandemic. Dunham wanted his baseball teammates to experience that same type of glory at the section level. It was also another opportunity to continue progressing in the sport.
“It just makes me even more excited to further my career in baseball, for sure,” Dunham said.