As freshmen, Matt Odland and Justin Kelm would sit at the round tables in Conversations Dining Center, talking about where they wanted to take the ISU baseball club in the next four years.
The two wanted to be more than the freshmen that clean up Cap Timm Field after practice. Those dreams that seemed impossible at the time have become a reality.
Two years later, Odland is now the president and Kelm is the vice president of the club, and the two are dreaming bigger than ever.
“We wanted to be veteran leaders when we reached our junior and senior years,” said Kelm, a junior. “We hoped to represent the team better than ever and do it on a nation club baseball level.”
Kelm recalls the first encounter he had with Odland and said the fire Odland had was something that everyone looks for when they discuss the traits a leader must possess. It was in the fall ball league their freshman year when Kelm saw the passion Odland had for baseball.
Odland developed his passion for the game while living on the outskirts of Clarion, a small Iowa farm town. Odland first encountered the game as a little leaguer in Goldfield, Iowa.
“Growing up, I played on the small-town team,” Odland said. “We always beat the big-town team, which made for some of the best memories.”
Odland attended and graduated from Clarion-Goldfield High School, which only had roughly 1,000 students. The small town certainly didn’t hinder Odland’s ultimate goal when he reached Ames.
Odland quickly got involved with the baseball club and made an impact as a freshman that didn’t go unnoticed. Every day, whether it was after practice or a game, he was out there on the field, raking the dirt until it was perfect.
“My mentality was, 'why play and not give it my all, in all parts of the game?'” Odland said. “I was committed and I didn’t see a reason to half-ass it.”
Cole Debner, senior and co-vice president, said when Odland was a freshman, he was the only one making an effort to meet everyone.
“He’s just very outgoing and everyone gets along with him,” Debner said. “Matt brings the intensity that needs to be brought to every practice.”
Odland has the right mix of traits that is needed to be an effective leader, Kelm and Debner said. He knows when to be strict, but also keeps the practice moving, something the club has taken for granted in the past.
All three members mentioned that the practices have changed since Odland has taken over. Some of those changes are because Odland was involved with the ISU women’s softball team. Odland was a manager with the team before becoming president.
“Practice has become more organized and things get done with a purpose,” Debner said. “He built on what Elliot had already done.”
Odland took over for Elliot Frey, the former president who graduated last spring. Odland said Frey had the club going in the right direction, but he wanted to take it even further than where Frey led it.
One way he has done that is with the renovations at Cap Timm Field. A new backstop, along with new dugouts and several other features, are currently being remodeled. Odland has been a part of that project since day one.
“These renovations will bring attention to our program not only from a student standpoint but also from the eyes of the National Club Baseball Association,” Odland said.
Two years ago, these were all dreams, but these dreams are now coming true. For Odland and Kelm, the hope of getting this club into the national spotlight has already occurred. What needs to be determined though, is where does the duo go now?
“We want to win conference, regionals and nationals,” Odland said. “We have a group that could get that done.”
With Odland as president, Kelm believes Odland can get the club to the next level — a national champions level.