McKeesport, PA. – Penn State Greater Allegheny Senior Josh Arroyo’s (Toa alta, Puerto Rico/Levittown Baptist Academy) baseball career spans as far back as he can remember. From the day he was born, the sport of baseball was instilled in him by his family and his two brothers, Jose and Joed Arroyo.
“I followed my brothers in their pursuits of baseball and I have been playing ever since I can remember,” said Arroyo. “My mother always says that ever since I left her womb I have had a bat in my hand, so that’s always been a part of my life.”
From his first home run in five and six-year-old baseball to his four-year career at PSUGA, Arroyo has always had two main support systems: His family and his country.
With Arroyo and his two brothers all having busy baseball schedules, his parents had to split time between the three boy’s games. No matter how hectic it may have been, Josh and his brothers always had them there for support.
“My family has always given me great support,” said Arroyo. “We all three had baseball schedules so we would all play on the weekends. My mom would go with one brother while my dad went with another and my grandma would go with me and then they would switch. No matter what, they would try and make it work so that we all three could get the best out of our experiences and that was huge for us showing that we had family there for us.”
Not only did Arroyo have a strong support system at home, but in his coaches and mentors throughout the game of baseball as well. High school coaches Emmanuel Rosario, Omar Rosado, and Jose Luis Rodriguez each taught Arroyo different aspects of the game of baseball and how to apply them to his life.
“They taught me that [baseball] was more then just a game it is your life,” said Arroyo. “I learned skills that I not only apply to my baseball game but I apply to my life to and that’s priceless to me.”
As the journey to find a college team began, it was a small college in Western Pennsylvania that caught his eye. Former Penn State Greater Allegheny Athletic Director Jim Chester led a recruiting trip to the island of Puerto Rico looking for athletes to help PSUGA’s athletic programs.
One of Josh’s coaches on the island, Carlos Diaz, got him in touch with Chester and set up a try out for Arroyo to show his skills on the diamond in hopes of pursuing a college baseball career at PSUGA.
“I met Chester on his recruiting trip back home in Puerto Rico,” said Arroyo. “He came to talk to me and my parents after the tryouts to see if I was interested in coming up and here I am today five years later.”
When Arroyo first stepped on campus, he fell in love with the small college feel that PSUGA had to offer. With about 10 fellow Puerto Ricans on campus already, it helped him in the college transition and made him feel like a part of his home country was with him giving him the support he needed to succeed.
“With English being my second language, I really appreciated the small classrooms and that you could talk to your professors,” said Arroyo. “When I got here, we already had about 10 Puerto Ricans so it was like we had our own part of the island present here in PSUGA. Having that support group with us together helped us strengthen our bond and I have created friendships that I know will last forever.”
Arroyo’s baseball career didn’t start the way he would have liked getting just six at bats in his freshman season because of a knee injury that forced him to miss the entire year. He went back to his home country to get knee surgery and couldn’t do anything for six months during the recovery process.
Once his knee was back to full strength, he was determined to come back better and stronger than his Freshman year and help his team win. He would do that and so much more having a break-out year in which he hit .443 with four home runs and 62 RBI, which still stands as the school record for RBI in a season.
His favorite memory in a PSUGA uniform came in one of his final at bats of that season and helped cap off what was a great comeback story for Arroyo and the PSUGA Baseball program.
“My favorite memory is when I had 58 RBI and I needed two more to reach 60,” said Arroyo. “I came up with the bases loaded and I hit a grand slam that made it 62. My buddy Gerrardo [Diaz] came over and gave me the ball so that was very special for me.”
Arroyo had one of the most successful careers in PSUGA Baseball history over his four seasons. He finished his career hitting .406 (103-254) with eight home runs and 109 RBI over 95 games played. He was a two-time Penn State University Athletic Conference Champion and helped lead his team to the United States Collegiate Athletic Association Small College World Series each of those seasons.
Despite the great success Arroyo saw on the field, he always wanted to strive to be more then just the stats on a piece of paper. He wanted to lead and hold himself accountable so that he could represent the two things he loves most, his family and his home country.
“It’s definitely a blessing and a privilege to be able to represent my family and represent my country,” said Arroyo. “It means the world to me because I never pictured myself doing this and being able to do it to the best of my abilities is a blessing. I held myself to a higher standard, you can’t be behaving irrationally because your representing your family and your country.”
One way Arroyo does that is helping to guide the numerous other Puerto Rico Natives on campus and help them in their transition to college life. With PSUGA being so far away from their homeland, they can confide in Josh and the other Puerto Ricans on campus to get through any struggles they might be having.
“It’s different because you know your senior year is coming but you never picture it until it actually happens,” said Arroyo. “It’s a blessing to be able to share the knowledge that you have and to be able to help others the way someone helped you. It’s a privilege to be able to help guide someone through the whole process and to be able to provide the support.”
As Arroyo moves on from the PSUGA Baseball Program he continues to work hard everyday to represent both his family and his home country of Puerto Rico in everything he does. Baseball will still be a big part of his life and he is looking to instill the lessons taught to him to the next generation of baseball players in whatever ways are available to him.
“Baseball is such a big part of my life that I can never see myself leaving it,” said Arroyo. “Whatever opportunity I can get to keep myself involved in baseball in whatever aspect it might be I will definitely consider pursuing it. I love this game and I dedicate my life to playing this game so whatever I can do to help somebody develop their skills and become a better baseball player or if I by any chance get to play again I will consider it because I love this game.”
Arroyo continues to work hard every single day as he looks to earn his degree from PSUGA in Bio-Behavioral health. While he still figures out what comes next after PSUGA he will continue to strive to do his best as he represents both the Arroyo family and the over 3 million people who live on the island of Puerto Rico.