Alaska is a state where high school standouts go on to ski for a gold medal at the Olympics, shoot hoops for the NBA, and play baseball for the big leagues.
That’s Chad Nading’s story – from East High Thunderbird to baseball player for the San Diego Padres system. For Nading, it started with a physically active childhood and continued through years of sticking with the game.
“In 2016, I was sitting on a couch with no opportunities to keep playing, when an independent baseball team — the Wichita Wingnuts — called me,” said Nading, the former four-time Alaska state champion. “They needed help filling innings because they had injuries.”
“I had no guarantee I would stay for more than a weekend. It was my decision whether to take a chance and play, or retire from baseball.”
Nading took a chance. He earned a permanent spot with the Wingnuts and later signed with the San Diego Padres organization in 2017. He went on to play with the San Antonio Missions.
“I took a chance and got the opportunity to prove myself, and it was the best decision I could have made,” he said.
Over the years, Nading kept sharpening his skills by coaching with the Alaska Baseball Academy
and Notre Dame Preparatory
, while giving young athletes the knowledge he wished he had at a younger age. Nading points to his youth as the reason for his success.
“I was very active as a kid. Whatever my friends wanted to do – roller hockey, fishing, basketball, football – I was willing to do it,” he said. “My parents were very supportive of my desire to be active, as well as whatever I decided to do.”
His experience with sports turned into a passion, which turned into a determination to excel. Nading lettered in multiple sports at Anchorage School District’s East High School, winning state titles in track and field, baseball, and football.
“Sports are humbling, especially in the big leagues,” he said. “Staying positive in tough times and confident in good times has led me to where I am. I had to fight through really bad days by telling myself that I was good enough and tomorrow is a new day to show my ability.”
Nading encourages youth to be as active as possible and try several sports.
“Be coachable, while listening to yourself,” he said. “Take care of yourself by eating well, exercising often.”
He had one more reminder: Drink plenty of water. Nading said he remembers to drink water by carrying a bottle with him and filling it up at least four times each day.
Photograph courtesy of Chad Nading