When Clint Clymer was graduating high school as a Sandcrab in 2012, there wasn’t a long list of college offers to choose from. He actually had to pack up, head up I-95 for eight hours to Southern Wesleyan University in South Carolina to play baseball in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. Now, a top closer in the conference, and with the third lowest ERA on Bethune-Cookman, Clymer is taking advantage of his opportunity to play Division I.
Recruiters were likely scared away at first because he was a two-year starter at first base. In his senior year at Seabreeze, he pitched less than 15 innings, but his fortune turned around when, in SWU, his coaches asked if he could pitch.
“They told me to get on the mound and show them what I could do, and I pitched really well that day,” Clymer said. “After that, they started pitching me more and more, and I got some innings my freshman year, but by sophomore season, I became the eighth-inning guy.”
While hitting .260 his two years, Clymer became the closer and held the lowest ERA on the team, also striking out 21 batters his sophomore season. Although he was experiencing success on the diamond, he and his coach didn’t get along, which led to his transfer.
“Southern Wesleyan was still a great experience for me,” he said. “It was my first time playing college ball, I made a lot of good friends, and I found Jesus there, so it’s unfortunate that it didn’t work out.” Clymer’s teammate, Thomas Floyd, whom he looked up to, talked to him about Christianity and Jesus, and Clymer decided to become a Christian. He still thanks Floyd for taking the time out of his day to change his life.
Southern Wesleyan was also where Clymer made the most memorable play of his career, his first college home run.
“I was taking a lot of crap from my friends because I didn’t hit any my freshman year, and three quarters into my sophomore year, I still hadn’t hit one,” Clymer said. “When I hit that homer, I knew I got a good pop on it, and it cleared the fence by 30 nearly feet. All I could think about was that the guys would stop giving me a hard time because I finally hit one. I got into the dugout, and all the guys gave me the silent treatment. No one gave me high-fives or congratulated me; they all just sat there.”
Ready to transfer away from SWU, Clymer called up Bethune’s coach, Jason Beverlin, and asked if there were any spots left on the team, and there were.
“The NAIA, compared to Division I baseball, is very different,” Clymer said. “Division I baseball is much faster, and the talent level is a lot higher, so I didn’t know where I was going to end up.”
A month into the season, Clymer was given his first save opportunity against North Carolina A&T on March 14, in North Carolina, and after allowing two on base, he got the next two to fly out and struck out the third to earn his first save of the season.
“It was phenomenal,” he said. “... I realized at that moment that I could compete at this level.”
Clymer also is a mentor for the 14U Ormond Beach Golden Spikes baseball team as an assistant coach under his dad, Ned Clymer. Clymer has been assisting with the Golden Spikes since he was 16 years old.
“I preach to them, at every practice, that they play the game the right way,” he said. “We also teach the kids how to be students. We take up monthly reports of their grades, and if they have anything below a C, they can’t play. I want to show them that there is more than the game of baseball, but at the same time, I want to teach them the game they love.” Clymer wants to eventually coach high school baseball after his college career.
Clymer and the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats will be in action in the MEAC Championship from May 13-16, in Maryland.
BY THE NUMBERS:
In just his first season as a Bethune-Cookman Wildcat, Clint Clymer leads the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference in saves with seven, which helped him earn All-Conference First Team honors.