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Cambridge’s Silva swings his way to Nebraska to play for the Huskers

A strong two years at Barton Community College in Kansas has earned Riley Silva the chance to play Big Ten baseball at Nebraska

Riley Silva admits he didn't have much say in what sports he played as a youngster.

Those decisions were left primarily to his parents Stephanie and Joe, and like most Canadian kids he strapped on the skates and hit the ice in the winter. 

But when the weather warmed he traded in his skates and stick for cleats and a bat.

And while he enjoyed hockey early on, it was in the summer he was at his best.

“I started playing baseball I think when I was around seven or eight,” Silva said.

“I started with the Cambridge Cubs. My parents put me into that. They always wanted me to be active and stay healthy and that was the way they did it for me.”

Now a college sophomore on the Barton Community College baseball team, Silva’s decisions are his own and he’s decided to continue his baseball career at the University of Nebraska.

The former Cambridge Minor Baseball standout announced his commitment to the Big Ten Conference school back on May 5.

Silva knew he wanted to play Division 1 baseball, a journey that really picked up steam in high school when he was playing for former big-leaguer and Nebraska Husker Adam Stern as a member of the Great Lake Canadians of the Canadian Premier Baseball League.

What he also knew was his path may not be as straight forward as others. 

It didn't begin with a flashy commitment to a big school south of the border out of high school, much like Nebraska, but with a two-year stop in Great Bend, Kan., a city with a population roughly ten times smaller than his hometown. 

Silva was okay with that. In fact, he preferred it.

During his years in Grades 10 and 11, Silva had the opportunity to participate in the Tournament 12 at Rogers Centre, now known at the Canadian Futures Showcase.

Major League scouts and college recruiters fill the seats at the event, all trying to get a look at the top Canadian talent from across the country.

When Silva returned home he received a call from one of those recruiters.

“After that tournament had finished I had a call from the recruiting coordinator at Kansas State University and talked to him for a while,” he said.

“I told him I wanted to go the junior college route and he hooked me up with Coach Biggs here at Barton. I really chose this route because I felt like I wasn’t ready to play at the Division 1 level yet, I wasn’t as strong as I needed to be and I wasn’t fully prepared to be a Division 1 athlete.”

The decision to commit to Barton out of high school, a program that’s no stranger to posting wins and churning out four-year players, was exactly what Silva needed to propel his career to the next level.

“Barton has definitely made me a better player and person overall because it really helps you pick out your weaknesses and make them your strengths,” he said.

“My main goal I focused on was becoming stronger and hitting better. My defence has always been a key part of my game but hitting for a little more power and hitting for average has been something I needed to work on. In these last two years I have put on a significant amount of muscle that has helped me hit the ball harder.”

Flip the calendar to April 14, the day Silva received a text from the recruiting coordinator at Nebraska.

“He told me that Stern had put in a good word and they’ve been following me,” Silva said.

“He told me they have a lot of respect for Stern and whenever he gives them information about a player they really value that and take it into consideration. We had a call a couple days later and he said he was very interested and he'd love to have me be a Husker.”

As his career at Barton is coming to a close and his next chapter is set to begin, Silva has no doubt he made right choice for the next stage of his career.

“They really made me feel valued as a player and as a person,” he said.

“I just had a feeling that was home and it was where I wanted to be for the next two years.”