Heading Logo


Bubba Arslanian leads AHS teams

'Happy, down- to-earth' youth heading to UA

By JONAH ROSENBLUM Record-Courier reporter Published: May 3, 2017 1:00 AM
  • 1 of 1 Photos | View More Photos

AURORA -- The nickname "Bubba" has sometimes been used to describe a larger individual, like former lineman William "Bubba" Paris and former president William "Bubba" Clinton.

Technically, that's where Bubba Arslanian, a perfectly in shape superstar in multiple sports for Aurora, got his nickname from.

"When I was a little kid, I was a little chunky," Arslanian explained. "My grandma started calling me that."

But "Bubba" also brings to mind a certain amiability and affability -- and Arslanian fits that description to a T.

"As much attention as he gets, he's just such a happy kid and down-to-earth," said Ben Stawicki, Arslanian's teammate on the diamond and gridiron and a longtime friend.

[Article continues below]

When it comes to his nickname or any number of things, the Greenmen catcher/designated hitter is quick to smile and happy to share a laugh. And that's part of the beauty of Bubba, according to AHS coach Michael Brancazio.

Despite his hefty athletic achievements as a linebacker and fullback on a consistently dominant football team, a state qualifying wrestler and a hot-hitting baseball player, Arslanian's ego has remained trim.

"Ever since a young age, my parents have told me, 'Just stay humble. You're not as good as you think yet. You're not the best. You need to keep working,'" Arslanian said. "It's just something in the back of my mind. It just keeps me humble and wanting more."

Arslanian remains what one might imagine a "Bubba" to be -- friendly, gregarious and likable.

"He's just a good guy," Brancazio said. "You don't see that too often from a very good athlete. A lot of kids are a little bit selfish. That's the complete opposite of Bubba -- he's just a good team player and a good gentleman."

[Article continues below]

That's particularly evident when the Greenmen run their youth camps, where Arslanian relates particularly well to the young ballplayers, according to Brancazio. With many of the kids watching Arslanian on Friday nights in the fall as well as on the diamond, they tend to gravitate toward Arslanian -- and he embraces them and patiently teaches them the game.

"He definitely looks forward to our youth camp," Brancazio said. "I've never seen a young man work better with kids in trying to teach them the game and be a positive role model for our young kids who want to play baseball here."

Arslanian said he loves being around kids, largely because he can relate.

"I've been in their shoes before," Arslanian said. "I've been afraid to come up here, big kids, nervous about that. You just try to get them in their comfort level, speak to them like they're an actual person and not like they're younger or anything like that."

Arslanian has been equally likable on the field where he is hitting .395 with considerable power. Of his 17 hits through 14 games, nine were doubles and two were homers.

And unlike the stereotypical power hitter, Arslanian simply does not strike out, with only two in 55 at-bats, compared to nine walks. Brancazio praised Arslanian for learning to lay off the curveball, the bugaboo of many hitters worldwide.

"Over the years, you just become more relaxed in the box," Arslanian said. "Freshman year, you're all tense, just trying to hit the ball as far as you can. This year, and past years, it's just progressively been better. Just relax, knowing what the pitcher is going to be throwing, I feel for the game better."

Behind the plate, Arslanian has earned equal praise from Brancazio. The coach said that in Arslanian's early years, his staff would talk to the catcher about pitch sequence after every inning. They no longer have to. Arslanian simply understands what he needs to do -- and what pitches he needs to call -- intuitively.

"The reason I like Bubba is he's been our catcher for three-and-a-half years now, since he was a freshman, so he knows how we like to call games," Brancazio said. "As coaches, we never have to call a pitch anymore."

He's even adapting well to a new position -- designated hitter -- as the coaching staff tries to avoid undue stress on Arslanian's knees, where he suffered an injury during football season.

A two-way football player and wrestler, Arslanian isn't used to time off, but he seems to be handling his time in the dugout just fine. In fact, Brancazio said he's using the time to study pitches and become a better pitch-caller.

As time goes on, he'll catch more and more, particularly league games, given how good a defender he is.

"He's really embraced his role, not only catching part-time but being a designated hitter and a little bit of right field," Brancazio said. "That just shows how good of an athlete he is -- that I can put him anywhere in the field and I know he'll do a great job."

Arslanian might as well embrace his role, since these are likely his last days on the diamond. Arslanian had chances to play college baseball, but will play football for Akron, instead. He said football became his top sport around the beginning of high school.

"I just like being out on the field running around, hitting people," Arslanian said. "Baseball, you can make it physical if you want, but for the most part, it's laid back."

The happy-go-lucky catcher is hoping to leave Aurora a happy man. That wasn't necessarily the case last spring, when the Greenmen were ousted in their first postseason game -- 4-1 at Nordonia -- after advancing to the state final four in 2015.

With a team that is no longer quite as green, at least when it comes to age, the school color remains unchanged, Arslanian and his teammates hold high expectations.

"I'm trying to make every memory I can," Arslanian said. "It's taking everything in and just trying to make this the most memorable season I can."

Email: jrosenblum@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9400 ext. 4163


Rate this article

Do you want to leave a comment?   Please Log In or Register to comment.