Stepping on the Mound From Hawaii to Rocklin

Stepping on the Mound From Hawaii to Rocklin

Last month, Jessup’s Student Life department hosted a barbecue at McBean Park, home of the Warriors baseball team. The event celebrated Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) month while students were still in session. AAPI Heritage month is celebrated during the month of May.

Hawaii native Haliama Swartman never thought he’d end up playing baseball in Rocklin. Growing up near the Hanalei side of Kauai, Swartman moved to Oahu when he was 12 years old. Moving to Oahu made sense to Swartman’s parents who sought to obtain a better education for their kids, but Swartman missed riding dirt bikes on the ranch where he grew up. One thing he was able to continue despite the move, was his love for baseball. “I’ve played baseball for as long as I can remember,” he said. “I come from a baseball-loving family but I suppose it was my older brother that got me out there playing when I was just four years old.” Good thing he did, Swartman is an impressive pitcher and has already made a significant impact for the Warriors.

Although Swartman began his 2023 season in the bullpen, his consistency quickly earned him the role of Jessup’s ace in the starting rotation. Swartman got off to a 5-0 start once he moved to the rotation, but perhaps no outing was bigger than his final relief appearance in Glendale, Arizona. With 7.1 shutout frames out of the bullpen, Swartman guided Jessup to a 7-4 victory against Arizona Christian that sparked an eight-game winning streak. More recently, Swartman was the starting pitcher for the GSAC Championship game giving the Warriors an automatic bid to the NAIA opening round. 

During his sophomore year of high school at Kauai Christian Academy, a Chicago Cubs scout came to watch him play. He’s still a fan of the team, and hopes to one day play in the majors or play internationally and travel. It was during Swartman’s senior year of high school that his coach suggested he take on the “pitcher only” role. 

After graduation, he found himself pitching for Yakima Community College in Washington state but tore his shoulder during his second year of eligibility. The injury sent him back to his home state of Hawaii where he started his rehabilitation process. Later that year, he was playing in a summer league when Jessup Head Coach Trevor Paine recruited him to play for the Warriors.  

One of the most important things he has learned from the Jessup coaching staff is to be mentally stronger while throwing on the mound. “Coach Stevens taught me, when I come to the mound, never have a doubt in my head. That’s really made a difference for me and my game,” he said. “Coming to Jessup has been a great move for me. It’s a solid program.” Regarding making the move to the NCAA next year, Swartman said, “It means a lot to me and our team to be playing in the best Division II conference in the nation. No doubt it will bring increased competition and numerous opportunities.”