The honor of being called to represent his native country as a member of the Greek national baseball team in 2012 stirs powerful memories for Angelo Tsingerliotis, a 2013 graduate of Western Connecticut State University who awaits word of a possible opportunity to return to the field for Greece next year.
Tsingerliotis, a Norwalk resident who competed in intercollegiate athletics at Western as a member of the men’s soccer team, received an invitation to join the Greek national team that placed seventh in the 2012 European Baseball Championship held in Amsterdam in the Netherlands. He has remained in contact with the national team coach and expressed hope that he will be chosen again to represent Greece at the 2014 European Championship slated for Prague in the Czech Republic.
His selection for the 2012 national team followed his successful tryout in Athens and strong performance with a batting average above .300 as a player for Spartakos Glyfadas, a leading team in Greece’s Champions League. During the year leading up to the September 2012 tournament in the Netherlands, he recalled, “I worked very hard on my own at Western, at times going before school or soccer to the WCSU baseball field and hitting balls off the tee at 6am.”
Tsingerliotis’ highlight of the tournament was his start in a game against Croatia, where he delivered a hit and drove in a run in a 7-2 victory. His tournament experience was cut short by a shoulder injury, but the excitement of being a member of the Greek national team has lingered long after the competition’s end.
“Playing for the country of my heritage was one of the most amazing experiences of my life, one that I will remember forever,” Tsingerliotis said. “It was much more than representing a town, a state or even a college — I was representing millions in Greece with the word ‘Hellas’ on the front of my jersey.
“After the games, kids would line up and we would sign autographs for them, and just seeing their faces was worth a million words,” he recalled. “They probably will forget the ‘Angelo Tsingerliotis’ who signed that ball, yet for that moment, I felt like a professional.”
Tsingerliotis will move forward following receipt of his bachelor’s degree this August at WCSU to begin building his own career in the field of education. For the 2013-14 academic year, he plans to return to his high school alma mater, Trinity Catholic in Stamford, to serve as assistant men’s soccer coach and as a substitute teacher. He plans to enter graduate school in 2014 to pursue a master’s degree in secondary education, in preparation for seeking a position as a history teacher and soccer head coach at the high school level.
Yet even as he embarks on a career in education, Tsingerliotis has drawn an important life lesson from his experience with the Greek national team.
“I have taken away the understanding that everyone has someone who looks up to them, and you must always be your best for the people who consider you a role model,” he said. “Whether you are a teacher or a ball player, people strive to be like you, so you have to set a good example.”