Feb. 16, 2015
Whether he is digging into the batter’s box at the University of Notre Dame’s Frank Eck Stadium, coiled to make contact with a 95-mile-an-hour fastball or standing on stage at the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center, poised to deliver lines in Luigi Pirandello’s classic, “Six Characters in Search of an Author,” senior baseball player Phil Mosey has been able to pursue his dreams thanks to a collaborative Notre Dame effort.
Mosey has emerged as a Notre Dame Renaissance man. He plays third base for the Irish. He took to the stage last fall and has been doing radio, interned in film and television and even done improvisation at Chicago’s storied Second City comedy club. He has also written scripts for plays and television.
Starting out at Notre Dame, a career in the entertainment field wasn’t in the picture for Mosey.
“I started in the business school,” Mosey said. “I thought I wanted to do marketing, something creative through business.”
Mosey realized he did not have a passion for business.
“I was pretty miserable,” Mosey said. “I’m very . . . right-brained. That’s the creative side. I backtracked and looked at what I enjoyed in high school and growing up. I loved writing and I would always be doing videos and more creative projects if given the opportunity in high school, as opposed to an essay or a diagram.
“I had an epiphany my sophomore year and I decided that I wanted to do film and television, and that I wanted to be a screenwriter and take my career choice that way. I at least want to try acting and give it a shot. I plan on moving to Los Angeles and auditioning a lot. If the acting doesn’t work out, it will at least help me to have that experience on one side. I think it will benefit my writing to see both sides of it.”
A team effort has enabled Mosey to take advantage of his Notre Dame experience to craft a vision of a career, while still being able to participate in athletics.
“I think that’s part of what makes this place special and what makes this place really unique, is that we can do that,” Irish baseball coach Mik Aoki said of working together to allow Mosey to thrive academically and athletically and participate in theater. “At Notre Dame, in the athletic department, we all want to win. We all want to compete for national championships and conference championships, but such a big part of this place is about development. That’s a really important facet of it.
“If I’m going to deny Phil Mosey the opportunity to pursue this stuff, or any other student for that matter the opportunity to pursue this stuff, then I’m cheating them out of one of the really special things about Notre Dame. That’s the way I look at it,” Aoki said. “Whether it’s Pat Connaughton as a two-sport guy or it’s Phil being part of a play.”
Aoki, along with some of the members of his staff and some of Mosey’s teammates, were in the audience to support Mosey’s theatrical debut.
“As a coach and an educator, it’s really gratifying to see that,” Aoki said of a student embracing the Notre Dame experience. “I guess at the end of the day, that’s what you’re in this thing for, to help these kids become better people and become people who are going to go out there and find the thing they’re passionate about. Give them the tools that give them success and maybe they’ll make a living following their passion. I think it’s great. I think it’s a real success story.
“Maybe Notre Dame is just a handful of places where a student-athlete can balance all of that. There are so many other places that dictate that you can’t take classes after one o’clock, that you can’t be in extracurriculars or you can’t do this or that. That’s one of the advantages of a place like Notre Dame. Here you have the opportunity to engage in so many facets of student life. I think Phil is a poster child for that.”
Anne Garcia-Romero, a professor of playwriting and theater studies at Notre Dame, said the College of Arts and Letters at Notre Dame offers an outstanding opportunity for a liberal arts education. Mosey, taking advantage of the unique Notre Dame experience, excelled in small seminar-style classes of 12 or so students.
“I’ve had a number of student-athletes in my classes at Notre Dame, and I’m always excited to have every student participate with their experience and their expertise in the class discussions and the class work,” Garcia-Romero said. “That small seminar-style class can give Notre Dame students exposure to a variety of theater topics and theater expression. It brings together students from all across campus in a very attractive environment that I think is unique to Notre Dame, and it offers students a really wonderful opportunity to engage in a variety of viewpoints.”
Garcia-Romero said Mosey’s talents in theater have flourished at Notre Dame.
“I think Phil is a very talented student,” Garcia-Romero said. “He’s taken two of my classes, script analysis and story structure. One thing I really appreciate about students like Phil, who are student-athletes and are very committed to their athletic careers and also committed to their academic and creative growth, is that he is very disciplined. He has a very rigorous schedule with his baseball career, but he was always completing his assignments with precision and with a lot of commitment and passion for writing. I think he’s an extraordinary student in that way, because he is committed to all aspects of the Notre Dame experience. He’s a really special student because he’s able to really negotiate so many areas of campus life really successfully.”
Mosey brought Pirandello’s words to life in “Six Characters . . . “
“I really enjoyed his performance in the play,” Garcia-Romero said. “Many people, including me, think he has a great comedic ability as an actor. There was some uproarious laughter from the audience for his scenes.”
Mosey dealt with the challenge of a full academic load, his baseball commitments and the time obligations associated with participating in a play.
“It’s tough, time-wise, but it’s been a lot easier,” Mosey said of handling a demanding schedule. “People ask me about it, especially in the fall when I was going to practice in the morning for a few hours for conditioning or lifting, school all day and then rehearsal for three or four hours each night for the play that I was in. People are always shocked I can do it.
“As tough as it was, I enjoyed it. Not one part of it seemed like a job. I loved the classes I was in, and I really enjoyed the baseball component and the guys on the team. I thought we had a great fall in terms of camaraderie and everything. We have a great freshman class. As far as the play, it was the first time I had been in a performance of that magnitude and that level of legitimacy, instead of just doing stuff in high school for fun. I really fell in love with it. It was a blast.”
According to Aoki, there were no issues with Mosey in terms of meeting his baseball commitments while pursuing a passion in life and preparing for a career.
“I couldn’t be happier for Phil,” Aoki said. “I just feel like it really kind of clicked for him his sophomore year. You could tell the subject matter he was tackling in school really got him excited. There was some energy to what he was doing. Because of that he’s been able to balance all of those things. Because of that he’s been able to make the most of his Notre Dame experience and really become engaged, not only in the athletic side of things but also in the academic side of things.”
Mosey said he has developed confidence from the challenge of auditioning for a play or from making a clutch out handling the hot corner at third base. He said there has been a convergence of skills fostered in academics, baseball and theater.
“The time management has always been there, being a high school athlete and trying to juggle academics and the social life and trying to get somewhere as prestigious as Notre Dame and trying to build a resume for college by doing extracurricular things,” Mosey said. “The confidence is really important in both career choices. As much as baseball and sports in college isn’t a job, it kind of is, especially if you’re on scholarship, and they expect you to perform.”
Mosey said he is grateful Notre Dame allows its students to enjoy a full learning experience.
“I know at a lot of schools and with a lot of coaching staffs, a student-athlete wouldn’t have the opportunity to do something that took them that far away from the sport,” Mosey said. “I never missed any practices. My extra time, my ability to commit more time than just practice alone to baseball and to my skill set as a baseball player my senior year was definitely cut short by having to be at all these rehearsals and extra projects on the side. Plus, I was writing things and shooting things for my production class and writing class, and yet my coaches were extremely supportive of me. The coaches, my academic advisor and a bunch of my teammates all came to see the show. That gave me confidence to know they rallied behind me and respected seeing me outside of my athletic life.
“You hear a lot of the leaders here, either coaches or respected professors, talk about taking advantage of the Notre Dame experience and the opportunities Notre Dame allows you,” Mosey said. “That’s the message I give to the freshmen now. Take advantage of everything Notre Dame offers.”
— by Curt Rallo, special correspondent