During his sophomore and junior years at Salisbury, Sky Rahill had a habit of waking up every morning and mapping out his schedule down to the hour for the upcoming day.
“Then I’d have that little piece of paper on me all day, knowing where I had to go,” he said. “I would say [my time-management skills] are decent. Good for a college student.”
That planning was necessary for Rahill. In addition to taking courses in his major of conflict analysis and dispute resolution, he has served as a member of the university’s Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC), practiced Brazilian jiu-jitsu and started at first base for the Sea Gulls baseball team. And that didn’t take into account his hobby of flying airplanes.
“Sometimes it’s too much, but I’m really grateful I get to do all of that stuff,” he said Wednesday as Salisbury traveled through Iowa to Cedar Rapids for a chance to win the NCAA Division III championship it captured last spring. The Sea Gulls (36-10), the No. 4 seed among the final eight teams, will open their defense against No. 5 seed Wisconsin-Stevens Point (40-8) at Veterans Memorial Stadium on Friday at 2:15 pm
“I think it’s partly the way I’m wired,” Rahill continued. “I love doing a bunch of things and being really busy. I definitely in high school had the winter blues or that seasonal affective disorder where you’re kind of just in a rut and kind of bored. I’ve kind of found through college and learning more about myself that when I’m doing a lot of things and I’m a little bit overloaded and I’m kind of at the point of, ‘Ugh, I don’t know if this is too much,’ that’s when I’m at my happiest.”
All of those interests help explain why the 22-year-old Rahill — who was named on May 12 the Coast-To-Coast Athletic Conference’s Scholar-Athlete of the Year for earning a 3.61 GPA — is highly regarded by his teammates.
“He is interesting,” said senior left fielder Scott Cameron, who has matching laurel wreath tattoos with Rahill on their elbows after the latter learned ancient Greek leaders crowned their athletic champions with the garland. “He does a little bit of everything.”
Added Salisbury coach Troy Brohawn: “All I can say is he’s one of a kind. I haven’t had a person like him in my program in my eight years here.”
With a name like Sky and a father and paternal and maternal grandfathers as pilots, Rahill earning his pilot’s license last year doesn’t sound that surprising. He said he has been riding in planes since he was a baby.
Rahill, whose family owns a Cessna 180 Skywagon, said flying provides him the opportunity for introspection.
“I think being in the air gives you a lot of perspective,” he said. “You see how small the cars are, you can kind of make out people on the ground. And you think about that person who is sitting in traffic and may be getting mad because he’s sitting there in traffic, and you realize that the world is pretty big, and you shouldn’t really fret over little things.”
A three-time All-State first-team selection in baseball at Burlington High School in Vermont, Rahill could have stayed in the New England area but chose to attend Salisbury after visiting the campus per the recommendation of Clark Stephenson, an older high school classmate who was a member of the Sea Gulls men’s lacrosse team for one season.
As a freshman at Salisbury, Rahill joined the school’s ROTC. He recently was awarded the George C. Marshall Award as the best ROTC cadet, was commissioned as a second lieutenant and will report to Fort Benning, Georgia.
Rahill’s father, Wily, flew planes for the Air Force before retiring as a lieutenant colonel, and Sky Rahill noted his father’s influence on his career path.
“In my family, it’s kind of like, ‘We’re Rahills, and this is kind of what we do. We serve, and we want to give back,'” he said. “There’s definitely some pride, but I think it’s not just family pride, but a sense of patriotism and a pride to be just part of the Army and all of its history.”
One year after joining the ROTC, Rahill was encouraged by former Sea Gulls baseball player Adam Blaney to try Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Rahill, who had played high school ice hockey for four years and football for one, found the physicality of the martial art appealing.
During the offseason, Rahill said he practices Brazilian jiu-jitsu three to four times per week but trims his regimen down to twice per week during the baseball season.
“I try not to go too hard,” he said. “During the season, I’m not really doing hard rounds with anybody. I’m most drilling and learning technique. And out-of-season, I am pushing the rounds. But I’m pretty conscious that I’m still a baseball player and a college athlete, and I wouldn’t want to do anything to jeopardize that.”
Rahill has been an instrumental member of the baseball program. Last season, he was tied for the team lead in home runs (six) and ranked third in batting average (.368) and RBIs (32) to help Salisbury capture its first national championship. This spring, he ranks second in RBIs (45), fourth in runs scored (43) and sixth in batting average (.314).
Rahill’s success seemed unlikely in his first two seasons when he struggled as an outfielder. His troubles were so persistent that Brohawn offered to help Rahill find another program to transfer to, but Rahill refused.
“He said, ‘Absolutely not,'” Brohawn recalled. “He believes in what we do here, and he’s going to work hard. If he was going to play, this is where he wanted to be. You can’t say enough about a kid that has that determination and grind where it works out for him.”
Rahill said two of his fondest memories involve winning last year’s NCAA title and being asked by Brohawn in the fall to serve as team captain. Cameron said he and his teammates would “follow him anywhere.”
“He is our team leader,” Cameron said. “So when he’s out there, everybody looks to him. He keeps us collected when things go wrong, and when things are going well, he keeps us locked in so that we’re not too ahead of ourselves. He has a great bat. He can hit for power. He can set the table, and he can clean it as well. But the energy he brings is the most important. All of the guys, young and old, look to him no matter what the situation is, and he always brings it.”
The Sea Gulls are the loan 2021 College World Series participant to make a return this weekend. Rahill, who graduated last month, said he and his teammates have the right mindset to help him wrap up his college career on a positive note.
“It’ll be my last time playing baseball. So it would kind of be a sweet way to go out,” he said. “But just being here right now with my friends all around me, this is awesome.”
NCAA Division III College World Series
SALISBURY VS. WISCONSIN-STEVENS POINT
Friday, 2:15 pm