Connor Sechler’s always had an unshakable confidence.
The 2017 Bolivar graduate played baseball, basketball and football for the Liberators, racking up numerous records and honors before signing to pitch for Missouri State University.
After three years playing at the collegiate and amateur level, Sechler is now bound for the major leagues.
After spending time in the Cape Cod Baseball League with the Harwich Mariners, Sechler signed with the Texas Rangers earlier this month.
Bolivar football coach Glen Johnson said he saw Sechler’s confidence every time the three-sport standout would line up as quarterback for the Liberators.
“What stood out to me the most, Connor wanted the ball in big moments,” he said. “We could always count on him to lead when he played for us.”
That same sense of direction and purpose guided Sechler as he threw for 6,699 yards and 68 touchdowns at Bolivar — both program records — and was also with him earlier this month as he sat through five rounds of the 2020 Major League Baseball draft, listening for his name.
In the end, it wasn’t called.
But, the ace said, he had his own ace card. Pre-draft conversations with the Rangers had Sechler confident he’d have a chance in the big leagues.
“They told me that I might not go in the first five rounds, so I wasn't expecting to,” he said. “They were very interested and said they’d want to sign me if I went undrafted.”
On Sunday, June 14, Sechler and the Rangers made it official.
Sechler said he’s been told he’ll eventually start in one organization’s farm teams, adding that the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing disputes between the league and players have meant the timetable is unclear.
Still, he can’t contain his excitement.
“I will put in all the work I have to, to move up the ladder,” he said. “My goal was to play pro ball, and now I'm here. Now, it's given me more incentive to try even harder.”
At MSU, he earned Freshman All-American and All-Missouri Valley Conference First-Team selection. According to the university, Sechler was suspended by the Bears for a violation of an unspecified team rule last September and was not on their roster in 2020.
For the Bolivar coaches who have been watching Sechler’s rise through the sport, it’s unsurprising to hear him address the topic of hard work that way.
“Connor was a joy to coach,” Bolivar baseball coach Brad Roweton said. “He was one of the guys on and off the field.”
According to previous coverage, Sechler, a right-hander, posted a 6-2 senior record and an earned run average of 1.24. He fanned 101 batters in 58 2/3 innings of work.
He’s also the second of Roweton’s recent graduates to make it to the major leagues after former Liberator J.D. Murders earned a chance with the St. Louis Cardinals.
“Just like a lot of people, (Sechler) worked hard and was very competitive,” Roweton said. “He was a very talented person on top of that, which made him exciting to watch. The best compliment I can give him is that he was a team guy — no matter what sport or what situation, he wanted to be a part of it and wanted his team to do well. We could not be more happy for him and his opportunity to be a Texas Ranger.”
Thinking back, Johnson said after taking over the football program’s head coaching job, he sat down with Sechler to go over a plan for that upcoming summer.
“He said, ‘I’ll be there,’” Johnson recalled. “I had his travel baseball schedule and could see a few conflicts, but he assured me, ‘I will be at everything.’ I was really encouraged by that my first year as a head coach.”
In his senior season, Sechler threw for 2,935 yards and 29 touchdowns, establishing personal and single-season records and earning Central Ozark Conference Small School Division Offensive Player of the Year honors, the BH-FP previously reported.
“I will never look at jersey No. 13 in football and not think of Connor Sechler,” Johnson said.
The BH-FP previously reported Sechler was a 3-point and defensive specialist for a Bolivar basketball team that won Central Ozark Conference Small School Division and district titles.
He shot 40% from distance and routinely drew the task of shutting down the opposition’s top scoring option as the Liberators advanced to the Class 4 state championship game for the second time in school history, the BH-FP reported at the time.
Looking back on his time as a Liberator, Sechler said he owes a lot of his current success to his roots of playing multiple sports with friends and family members and getting guidance from his coaches.
As he starts the next chapter in his career, he said he’ll still draw on lessons learned, like standing strong on the football field as defenders rush in.
“It helped me with leadership and poise, not getting rattled by little things,” he said.