Casey Furnas is not the prototypical college athlete. The four-year baseball player has already completed boot camp for the Marines and, the day before he graduates, will commission as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps. In doing so, Furnas is following in his grandfather's footsteps.
The Boca Raton, Fla. native is one of few athletes at Massachusetts Maritime Academy from outside New England, but came to Buzzards Bay for its "good reputation and job placement in the engineering industry."
"I have always had that goal in mind, but I wasn't sure I could make it happen until my junior year," explained Furnas. "I applied to the Marine Corps program and got accepted really quickly. I came back after my sophomore summer and there was guy the year above of me who had done the program before me. I had been working out with him every morning and getting my files ready. By December of my junior year, I found out I got selected for Officer Candidate School [OCS]."
Furnas is the second in his family to play D-III baseball before a military career. There is no doubt that the similarities between Furnas and his grandfather were conscious choices for the Maritime student.
"I started when I was probably 9 or 10 with my grandfather. I started out at 4 when my parents got me a tee ball and I got stage fright, so I took a few years off. My grandfather played baseball and was my mentor and he did the exact same thing as I did, [joining the] Marine Corps. He was a lefty pitcher at Gettysburg College."
More known for his rifle arm at shortstop, Furnas is off to the best start of his career at the plate. Through 13 games, he is hitting .356, raising his career mark to .297. Like all Maritime students, though, Furnas has to balance athletics, academics, regimental life, and extracurricular activities.
"I run the Semper Fi Society. It is [made up of] all the guys, plus the two girls that want to become marine officers. We train them on what they will need to do when they go for OCS. I had never heard of the society until my sophomore year, so I am trying to make it more recognizable on campus."
As a rare southerner on campus, there have been adjustments for Furnas.
"Coming in freshman and sophomore year was a little weird, but my roommate [and teammate] Coby Gerbiss is also from Florida."
Asked what the hardest things to adjust to were, Furnas had a few thoughts.
"The weather. We are about to go play in 30 degree weather! The Boston accents are funny. I'm also not huge on seafood and it's kind of a staple of New England culture."
So, what is the first thing the Floridian does when he returns in the summer?
"When I go home, I'm usually just fishing 24/7. You don't really get that kind of freshwater fishing up here with the weather."
Maritime has played a vital role in Furnas' development and he is quick to point out several of the Academy's unique qualities.
"The discipline that I learned from school definitely helps with time management. I think the biggest thing for bringing our team together is going to Florida when we are all together for 24 hours a day. I bet if you ask any of the guys on the team, their main group of friends is the team. It definitely helps that it's a small school.
Furnas lauded these traits and the nature of athletics in D-III.
"D-III is nice because you are really just in it for fun and just to compete. When you play D-I it's very serious and it's really like a business."
The 9-7 Buccaneers have less than a month left in their season, after which Furnas will hang up his spikes, at least for a while.
"I'm commissioning the day before graduation. My first station will be Quantico, Va. It's another six months of training, but after that, it will just be whatever the Marine Corps wants me to do."
Gabriel Fidler, Sports Information Associate