Aaron Trolia’s love for baseball has always been there.
The University Place native and former draftee of the Seattle Mariners retells the story of how, at 3 years old, he marched his way to his family’s television set and changed the channel to a baseball game. He sat there and watched for all nine innings.
No crying. No fussing. Just enchantment with the Big Show.
It was that fascination, along with his God-given playing skills, that led him to pursue baseball to some of its highest levels – first at Curtis High School, then community college, then Clemson and Washington State University before finally being drafted as a pitcher by the Mariners in 2004.
He even got to play spring ball with the big club, chatting it up in the locker room with the likes of former Mariner Raul Ibanez, who remembered Trolia from his minor league days, when the kid from UP was a batboy for the Tacoma Rainiers.
But Trolia – now married with two children and living in University Place – is making the transition from playing baseball to teaching it.
“A lot of guys I play with say they go home in the offseason and teach,” he says recently while sitting at Forza. “It keeps me close to the game.”
He has a burgeoning business, AT Baseball Instruction & Consulting, and has worked with players of all levels throughout the Puget Sound. He has put on clinics to help players improve everything from their mechanics to the understanding of the game.
Trolia will lead a pair of three-day baseball clinics March 28 through March 30, and April 4 through April 6.
To anyone who follows local baseball, Trolia’s name should sound familiar.
As a player, he made it as high as AA-West Tennessee and was on the brink of being called to AAA-Tacoma, but a wrist injury derailed his professional playing career. It forced him to part ways with the Mariners and become a free agent, a move that’s brought him to a minor league team every year, but never to the same level of playing success he enjoyed with the M’s organization.
Still, Trolia’s story isn’t one about an athlete trying to relive the glory days or gearing up for one last shot at The Show. Sure, he will try to re-sign with a minor league team this year and if a Major League club needs his 29-year-old arm, he’d jump.
But he also understands that the window on his playing career is gradually closing. It doesn’t scare him. He understands that he could have an entirely different baseball life, helping people maximize their potential on the diamond.
“Most players miss that solid foundation they need,” he explains. ”It’s these little, tiny things that people miss that make the difference.”
He knows this, personally, because he had to make the move from shortstop to pitcher during college, which requires a different understanding of your body.
More importantly, he understands that success in a player’s uniform doesn’t guarantee the same in a coach’s.
“For me, it’s always been a constant learning process,” he says. “You have to coach and help them learn.”
A writer for Yahoo testified online that Trolia wasn’t lying. Shawna Straub wrote about how Trolia helped her son not only improve his baseball skills, but also gain confidence.
“From the minute Dallon started working with Aaron I saw a difference in his confidence and demeanor,” Straub wrote in the November 2010.
Stuff like that speaks to his commitment to helping kids actually improve, something that other pro-ball-players-turned-consultants miss.
Whatever the case, Trolia is proof that there is life after baseball for pro players, and it might not even require him to take the mound.