Junior pitcher and pre-physical therapy major Jeb Zolman has made a comeback to the mound this baseball season after recovering from an elbow injury. His baseball career at UMHB wasn’t always planned—in fact, he didn’t originally plan on attending UMHB at all. Zolman started his first semester of college at the Air Force Academy in Colorado, but he quickly learned that this wasn’t the right choice for him. After six months there, he decided to return to his hometown of Humble and attend community college for the rest of the spring semester.
“I had no idea what I wanted to do or where I wanted to go. I was at a loss,” Zolman said. “I started touring colleges again. I visited Southern Methodist University and UT Dallas, but on the way home from touring, we came through Belton.”
A few years before this, Zolman’s older brother had toured UMHB. Remembering this, Zolman decided to take a tour himself. After he toured the school, he knew that UMHB would be his home.
“I wasn’t even home yet on the drive back and I told my mom, ‘I think I want to go there.’ UMHB just felt like home,” Zolman said.
Zolman was previously out of the game for almost a year due to a torn ulnar collateral ligament (UCL), a devastating elbow injury that can take months to heal and typically requires surgery. He received this injury during the beginning of the 2018 season. He first realized that something was wrong during a game against LeTourneau University.
He described how during the first inning of the game, his pitching ability began to suffer. “Through the first inning…I just knew something wasn’t feeling right,” Zolman said.
After having surgery and going through rehab, Zolman made his first appearance at the mound this season during the game against Blackburn College on Wednesday, March 13. Having played baseball since he could crawl, being able to play for UMHB again was a relief. “It was pretty exciting to be back. You work for nine to 10 months just to do one little thing, and you know that in your mind, you worked your tail off to do that,” he said.
Head coach Ben Shipp is excited to see Zolman back on the mound. “Jeb has been a big missing element for this team,” he said. “He had moved into the number one pitching slot for us, and his injury in 2018 was part of our downfall last year. When you lose a kid like Jeb…it was devastating.”
Shipp said that when Zolman started attending UMHB, he approached the team himself about wanting to play. “Jeb has two things that I think you want to look for when you are looking for a player,” said Shipp. “One, he has outstanding ability. He has the opportunity to be a wonderful pitcher for us. The second thing is he has the innate ability to lead.” Zolman has been designated as the Cru’s closing pitcher for the rest of this season. “I’m looking forward to him being our closer for the rest of the way. It’s nice to get to the eighth inning and know that you have someone like Jeb who is able to pitch in the ninth,” Shipp said.