Billy Salem and Gerrad Rohan Discuss Moving from Akron
By Dan Hiner
For the past couple years, Gerrad Rohan and Billy Salem have been roommates. Both were members of the University of Akron baseball team.
After the Zips dissolved their baseball program, the pair needed new universities to continue their baseball careers. Luckily, both were able to find a new home with the Youngstown State University baseball team.
Before the 2016 season started, Salem had a choice to make. He had offers from other higher profile universities, but Salem toured YSU with head coach Steve Gillispie and decided to commit over the summer.
“I talked to UCONN [University of Connecticut], Northwestern a little bit and some smaller schools,” Salem said. “Ultimately, this was the right fit for me, and I’m happy I made the decision I made to come here.
“It was a good fit. From the time I talked to coach Gillispie and coach Smallcomb, I just fell in love with the way they handled their business, the way they talked to me and they came at me in the right way. Once I got on campus I fell in love with the school, and I haven’t regretted it since the guys here are awesome and the coaches are good.”
Salem took his visit with Rohan and Gillispie. They both decided that if their academics successfully transferred from Akron, they would both attend YSU for their final season of baseball.
“I was in Connecticut. I flew home, and he came on a visit with me,” Rohan said. “Him [Salem], coach G [Gillispie] and I toured campus, toured the field, and we sat down and talked about it. We decided if our schooling and everything transfers over, this would be a good fit for us.”
Rohan said the two have developed a connection after playing with each other for the past three seasons. Rohan said the two have spent time training at the Watson and Tressel Training Site, putting in extra time in the batting cages.
Both Akron transfers have played off for the Penguins so far this season and have been some of the more consistent bats in the middle of the YSU lineup.
Salem is fifth on the team with a .250 batting average this season and third on the team in stolen bases. Rohan is first with a .278 batting average, third with 14 RBIs and fourth with .336 on-base percentage.
Salem said it’s easier to transfer and play baseball at another university as opposed to other sports.
“I’ve been playing the game since I was 4-years-old. It doesn’t change based on your uniform,” Salem said. “You still got to play the game the right way. You got to love the game, respect the game. The coaching staff falls right in line with what I was looking for. That made it easier.
“I thought ‘G’ [Rohan] and the guys are real cool. They kinda became my family again. That happened in the fall, so it was easier coming out here in the spring and play for the guys next to you and the coaching staff.”
After rooming together at Akron, Salem is still living with Rohan. Both agreed that transferring to another university is an easier transition when you have a teammate attending the same school.
Salem said the YSU players are “a lot like the Akron guys,” and he’s built a connection with them before the season began.
“The transition’s easier when that happens. This has probably been our third year rooming together,” Salem said. “There was no buffer there really. We kinda came together, and it worked out that we both liked the school. Obviously we get to live together, and it made the transition much easier when you have someone you’re comfortable with there with you.”