Recently graduated North Forsyth pitcher Dakota Chalmers doesn’t remember a time or place where he wasn’t focused on baseball.
“Ever since I can recall, I’ve been out on the dirt somewhere,” Chalmers said.
Now he’s preparing for a life in the sport. So far his life has been a whirlwind. Two years ago he was arguably the best baseball player in nearby Hall County, but his tall, lanky build hadn’t appealed to more than a few smaller colleges. Then he received an offer from the University of Georgia. Then he moved to North Forsyth High School.
Then he became a professional baseball player.
Chalmers was selected by the Oakland Athletics in the third round of the Major League Baseball draft this past week, and will reunite with his childhood friend Michael Branigan in the suburbs of Scottsdale, Ariz., to face off in rookie league ball.
His career has been a flurry of transitions, which included the experience of pitching his senior season with a new team—but those experiences might have prepared him for his future better than anything else.
“Yeah, it was a change,” Chalmers said of his move from Lakeview Academy, a Class A private school in Hall County, to a Class AAAAAA team that shares boundaries with three other powerful high school baseball programs. “I knew Brant Stark, who plays at North, we’re good friends. I already lived here and played rec sports here as a kid, so I felt at home pretty quick.”
But the biggest change was the talent Chalmers faced from the mound, which he says was vital to his growth before moving on to the next level. During his final season, he was humbled with a 4-4 record, but still managed an outstanding 1.50 ERA and 82 strikeouts, leading the county.
“Some of the swings on guys in this county and our region man,” Chalmers said. “I’d go out there feeling good—at Lakeview it was usually a strikeout or a walk for me. But so many guys I faced this year would just keep making contact. Sure, innings shortened up a bit but nothing hurts your ego like when a guy rips a double off your hardest fastball.”
Q: What does winning the Forsyth County News Pitcher of the Year award mean to you?
Chalmers: “My sophomore year in Hall County I got the same thing, but that was a private school in Class A. This is definitely big.”
Q: What does it mean to know you have a shot at taking the next step in your career past high school?
Chalmers: “To be able to be around the competition and extend it on past high school is just a dream. You always hear coaches telling players to cherish the moments. You never want to have to quit. I hope I don’t.”
Q: What was your senior season like?
Chalmers: “So different. Usually high school baseball, kids are just playing to play, especially where I was coming from. Here high school ball is right up there with travel ball. Our region was so hyped all season. It almost felt like Friday nights for football. Everyone was just so into it. It was a cool experience.”