Humans of Hillsdale is an ongoing series spotlighting Hillsdale College student-athletes, spotlighting the people behind the uniforms.
Next in the series is Charger baseball player Dante Toppi
WORDS: Calli Townsend
PHOTO: Calli Townsend
Dante Toppi — A family man
Charger Baseball | Class of 2020 | Plymouth, MI
Dante Toppi loves all things baseball, numbers, and Italian foods. He is studying applied mathematics and financial management with a career in financial analytics in mind, but as an outfielder on Hillsdale's baseball team, naturally he's drawn to baseball analytics.
"I've thought about a career in baseball analytics," Dante said. "I love Moneyball."
In high school Dante played baseball and soccer, but he eventually gravitated towards the intricacies and mental toughness baseball requires.
"Originally soccer was my main sport, but I guess I just grew to love baseball more," he said. "Soccer was just 1-0, 2-0, but there's more variety in baseball."
Dante calls baseball a "sport of failure" and says that those failures and adversities are some of the greatest teachers. Through his sport he has learned to be patient and focused, which will help him in his career after his days as a Charger are done.
"On our team we call it 'LTG' which stands for love the grind. Every day we do the same thing: you take thousands of fliers, hit the ball over and over and over again, and you can't let your mind slip, even when it seems monotonous."
It's the struggles and challenges that baseball presents that encourages Dante to press on through the grind.
"Even the guys in the Hall of Fame failed seven out of 10 times," he said, "so when you do well in baseball, it's very rewarding because you failed so many times."
When he's not going through the grind of practices or traveling for doubleheaders, you might find Dante in the kitchen.
"One thing I actually do love is cooking. I cook for my teammates a lot and I cook for my girlfriend sometimes," he said.
His passion for food and cooking stems from his Italian background. Family is important to Dante and he said his family is planning to take a trip to visit their relatives in Italy the summer after he graduates. His dad's parents are from Italy and many of his cousins still live in a suburb outside of Rome.
Despite living apart from their family in Italy, Dante's family still keeps their traditions going.
"Every fall my nonna, which means grandma, and my aunts and uncles get together and we make our own wine," he said. "And we can tomatoes. Every year we make about 400 jars of tomatoes and which will last us through the year."
They use the tomatoes to make sauces for some of his favorite meals, such as lasagna and chicken parmesan.
In addition to enjoying cooking Italian meals, Dante says he likes to meet new people and make people laugh. Even though he says during baseball he and his teammates try to buckle down and be mentally tough, he still tries to make things fun.
"I'm someone who always tries to lighten the mood. I'm kind of a goofy kid, but I'm someone who knows how to be serious at the right time," said. "Naturally that's just how I am. I love talking to everyone and I'm never really afraid to approach anyone."