Mission to Serve: Navy Vet finds role with Baylor Baseball

Posted at 10:33 AM, May 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-09 11:22:23-04

Four years ago, Justin Grassi was sailing the seas in the Middle East. He never thought he would be working for the Baylor Baseball team today.

Grassi spent eight years as part of the the Navy reserves. He served as a Navy police officer for two deployments, which included time in Bahrain and the Horn of Africa.

"I was part of a 12-person team, assigned to protect oil tankers and supply ships from everything really, anti-piracy and all the threats out there," Grassi said.

Grassi and his team were the first line of defense from anyone wanting to interrupt the ship's mission, from pirates to Iranian war ships.

"They knew we were part of the Navy, they knew what our mission was and that they did in fact have armed people aboard," Grassi said. "So really it was just this game of cat and mouse."

After his time at sea, Grassi returned home and became an instructor to help train others for future missions. It was there where he found his new passion as a strength and conditioning instructor.

Grassi's service came to end in 2015, and then came his biggest challenge yet.

"How am I going to be the civilian? How am I going to go back to school?" Grassi said.

Through advice from mentors, Grassi enrolled at Baylor University in 2015. He said during his first year at school, he became bored with the daily routine of just school. He knew he had to get involved in some capacity.

Grassi found his new role the same way he did in the Navy. Volunteering. He stumbled upon an opening for a Baylor baseball manager job in 2016 and figured he should apply.

"I have never played baseball before. I have never been a college athlete before," Grassi said.

Luckily for Grassi, he doesn't have to step in the batting cage - just help set it up.

But what baseball has done for him is fullfill his mission to serve.

"That structure, being able to be a part of it again and have that daily routine, absolutely really help me," Grassi said. "But then having finish my last year and a half in the Navy as an instructor it is also an opportunity for myself as well."

An opportunity to one day become a strength and conditioning coach. For now, he's just fine giving everything he can for the Bears, as he did for his country.

"That may not seem like much. Setting the tarps up or putting he bases in. It has a part to play in the final picture and it's not a glorious position," Grassi said. "I never thought I would be here talking to you but it's an important one."

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