Twenty-eight years, 183 hits and two all-Big Ten baseball awards ago, Tom Sinak arrived on campus without a major, a map or any idea “what a fraternity or sorority was.”
“My dad and grandfather drove me and my stuff to the Six Pack dorms, dropped me off and said ‘Good luck, kid,’” the 1995 speech communication grad says from St. Louis.
Thank heavens for Richard “Itch” Jones — or Coach, as Sinak and 15 years worth of Illini baseball teams knew him as.
“Like any college kid, I was a bit homesick for the first few weeks but that wore off and I grew to love my years there. Itch taught my about time management, work ethic and discipline. He was very hard on me but I knew it was because he knew I could be better with hard work,” says Sinak, whose .387 career batting average in Big Ten games remains No. 1 all-time at Illinois.
“These characteristics have helped me grow into the person I am today. I have been in the mortgage business for 21 years, running a very successful business, and I feel like it was what I learned from Itch not just about baseball but about life lessons that I have been able to apply to my day-to-day life that really helped me be successful in my business and in life.”