CLINTON, N.J. — Sometimes, it’s possible to see Connor Staine’s brain working. It’s a little easier if one knows what to watch for: the extra eye blink, yawn, or cleared throat, or an exaggerated shoulder shrug.
On the pitching mound, Staine might grab at his uniform belt, or stretch his arm suddenly.
Staine has Tourette syndrome, a neurological condition characterized by repetitive movements and vocalizations called tics. The 6-foot-3, 178-pound West Morris senior also has a wicked right arm, capable of two-seam fastballs inside and a strikeout-inducing changeup.
Staine expects to sign his National Letter of Intent on Wednesday, pledging to continue his baseball and academic career at Maryland. He is one of three Wolfpack baseball players planning to play at the next level, with shortstop Aidan Healy heading to Furman and centerfielder Nick Calabrese signing with Division II Angelo State in Texas.
The NLI is essentially a one-year contract in which a student promises to attend the school and remain academically eligible in exchange for athletics-based financial aid. The signing period opened Wednesday and continues until Aug. 1 for most sports, except football. Football players can ink their letters Dec. 19, 20 and 21.
“That little kid dream has stayed with me,” said Staine, who said he wanted to be a baseball player in a kindergarten project.
“I’m not going to let go of that dream.”
Staine verbally committed to Maryland pitching coach Corey Muscara in mid-September 2017, the start of his junior year. He had told the coaches about TS during a visit to campus, in response to a question about the biggest struggle in his life.