Preston Gainey's fastball got the attention of Major League Baseball scouts. The Milwaukee Brewers drafted him in the 11th round out of the United States Naval Academy after his sophomore year, and he's now a pitching prospect in the minor leagues.
Gainey says he always wanted to go back and get that college degree, without leaving the game he loves. But the options were limited.
"With universities that would put up with our schedules and our seasons," Gainey said, it was difficult to find a fit.
This fall, he's finally found that school willing to educate him from the comfort of his living room. He's part of a new online partnership with Northeastern University and the MLB, helping professional ballplayers finish up courses or start college for the first time.
Philomena Mantella is leading the program and says the curriculum also features unique courses like the ones helping athletes manage their brands and jump-starting front office careers.
"It's a context they understand well, and it's applicable to their future," said Mantella.
The reality is there are no guarantees these ballplayers make it to the majors. So for many, this is a back up plan, in case life throws them a curveball, like an injury.
In-depth news coverage of the Greater Boston Area.
Like many pro athletes, ballerinas also need a plan B.
"Most dancers in the company go straight from high school. so we miss out on our college years,"
said Kathleen Breen Combs, prinicipal dancer with the Boston Ballet.
But she still successfully completed a similar program at Northeastern for dancers, and she is now tip-toeing toward a masters degree.
"It gives you this confidence and security that you can do something else," said Breen Combs.