Testimonial Tuesday: Graham Wike

Leadership has no substitute when considering the traits of success for groups and individuals alike. The ability to guide, encourage or direct can be pivotal in reaching an ultimate goal. Some feel comfortable in such a position, others do not. Graham Wike,an uncommitted 2023 out of Corinth Holders High School in Clayton, NC, has no problem with such responsibilities.

Even at 15 years old, Graham shows he’s capable of providing the push others may need and actively seeks opportunities to build his skills to help others. He checks the boxes of leadership in that he can often step in where and how the situation dictates both on and off the field.  

Wike, who bats and throws righty, can comfortably take different  positions on the field. Having spent time at both middle infield spots, in the outfield, and even behind the plate as a catcher, Graham can handle each position with skill and confidence.

The freshman, who stands in at 5’6” and 160 pounds, isn’t at all deterred by size. For him it’s about attitude, and this keeps him in the right mindset to perform his duties while also leveraging his efforts to the benefit of those around him.  

Such a “take charge” approach to everything he does made him a perfect fit to join the Dirtbags when he did in the fall of 2018. In doing so, he took charge of his future on the diamond as he transitioned to the Chin Music team coached by Logan Koch in 2019.

And the Dirtbags skipper knew right away what he had in Wike. Koch said, “Plain and simple – Graham is a gamer. He is a guy that I loved having in the lineup as our spark plug. He will always be the dirtiest player and is always looking for any way to help our club win.”

The respect seems to flow in both directions, as Wike said the coaching style he found with the Dirtbags really fit his needs as a player. While the guidance and correcting of mistakes could be found each inning and situation, he says coaches also allowed players to figure it out and not necessarily grind to get results. According to Graham, this allows one to get coached while still playing one’s game. The way the Dirtbags take such an approach was an “eye opener” for him.

When asked what it means to be a Dirtbag, Wike responded, “It means being part of something bigger. Being a part of your baseball family and having a great time. I’m proud to be a part of the Dirtbags.”

Finding someone willing to invest in him with the same level of commitment he invests in himself opened his eyes to so much more than just a coaching style. Wike is now able to see the opportunities, both short-term and long-term. The connections with coaches and teammates have produced those realizations.

With the Dirtbags, Wike says he became a part of a squad that pushed him to improve himself athletically. He says the teammates constantly text one another year round in regards to how much they are working. The idea that someone is depending on the work he puts in has been a huge motivator for him. That, along with the internal push by the competitor side of Graham makes the work seem essential. 

Asked where he has seen the most improvement since being a Dirtbag, Wike settled on mental aspects of the game and speed development. With the mental approaches he acquired he says his hitting improved, as he was pushed to stay short with his swing and keep the ball in the middle of the field. He added, “Be who I am.”

Already a sub-7.0 sixty runner, his experiences with the Dirtbags encouraged him to invest in a lifting and a speed program. Much of the training is done with focus on a treadmill and the results are really fitting his game. Right now, Wike is all about hitting line drives and stealing bases, evidenced by swiping 9 bags in just three JV baseball games this spring. 

While Graham admits his demeanor may seem quiet during the game, he’s more than ready and capable of stepping up to aid a teammate. Leadership is not only knowing what to say but when to say it.

As in his pursuits to be a more productive player, Wike also isn’t one to depend only on what he brings to the table in terms of leadership. He actively pursues investing in those skills, too. 

The coaches at Corinth Holders High School recognized this, and the athletic director asked Graham to be a member of the school’s Athletic Council – a student leadership initiative to support a productive culture at the school. With each team represented by two members, Wike says the group learns about and develops leadership skills to not only help them on the field with their teams. 

But this also is a chance to build effective members of a growing community in Johnston County. And Graham’s desire to help others is fueled by this endeavor. Helping kids is the one opportunity to volunteer he enjoys the most, and he even aspires to start an effort to provide instruction for younger players in baseball.

For Wike at this stage of his journey, he is already looking at future destinations to continue investing in his athletic pursuits, academic studies and leadership skills. Just like in talking about what position he may play, Wike says the college program in his future will be the right fit.

And knowing leaders fit best in the front, expect this 2023 to rise to the top.