Brayson Hurdsman, a senior at Desert Hills High School, has been playing baseball since he could hold a bat. He started in tee-ball, then moved up to Little League, and increasingly competitive disciplines as his skills developed. “I just love the game,” he says. “It’s been a part of my life for so long that it’s kind of been my whole life. There’s a lot of time that goes into the game and you learn to love it like you love your family, your brothers.”
He also took an early interest in basketball, and played competitively until the demands on his time became too much. He saw a future in baseball and focused on gaining exposure with colleges and participating in showcases and tournaments. “He has all the physical and athletic attributes you could ever hope for in a ballplayer,” says Jerry Beck, Brayson’s coach at Desert Hills. “The sky is the limit for him.”
Aside from his easygoing, infectiously friendly nature, Beck says that Brayson brings a tremendous amount of athleticism and leadership to the team. He’s there for them through the wins and losses. “The numbers that he puts up and how hard he works at baseball—those are the things I hope the younger guys will remember,” Beck says.
The Hurdsman family moved to St. George from Carbon County when Brayson was in eighth grade. Darrin, his father, is an occupational therapist who owns Summit Rehabilitation. His mother, Laurie, has primarily been a stay-at-home mom. His older sister, a returned missionary, currently attends BYU-Idaho. His younger brother is an eighth-grader at Desert Hills Middle School and also plays baseball.
It’s not easy to plan a little weekend getaway given the family’s work and school schedule, but Brayson cherishes those times. He loves hunting and fishing.
A typical school day for Brayson begins at 5:30 a.m. He swims at the nearby athletic club, then goes to class for two periods. After lunch, he works at his father’s clinic until baseball practice. He usually has a couple hours of homework when he gets home in the evening to prepare him for the next day.
Brayson’s favorite classes are medical science, anatomy and physiology. He enjoys the internship at his father’s clinic, where he works as a therapy assistant, helping prepare patients for ultrasounds and scans. He says he has considered pursuing a career in occupational therapy, and is also interested in studying psychology to coach baseball. Playing in the major leagues is a dream. “I haven’t really decided anything like that,” he says. “There’s so many different career paths that I’ve thought about that I really like.”
“The thing that always made him special as an athlete was the desire to compete at a high level and to be the best.” – Darrin Hurdsman
Brayson says that playing sports motivates him to keep his grades up. He realizes that academics are a big part of being a successful high school athlete, since colleges and universities are looking for someone with the whole package. His 3.75 GPA helped him obtain a baseball scholarship to the University of Houston, where he will enroll this fall.
The 6’2” lefty was selected to the varsity team as a freshman and has lettered every year of his high school career. He pitched at the state championship as a sophomore. It was during this time that he started watching the seniors and setting disciplined goals for himself that would help him reach their level. “The thing that always made him special as an athlete was the desire to compete at a high level and to be the best,” Darrin Hurdsman says. “After playing in the shadow of the more dominant players, Brayson always pushed himself to get better and better. His willingness to outwork every other athlete on the team was the reason for his success and for the development of his talents.”
“Brayson has the ability to keep calm under the most stressful situations,” Laurie Hurdsman says. “I have always been aware of and so very impressed by—even when he was a young boy—his calm nature and his ability to remain in the game no matter what the situation holds, good or bad.”
During the 2015 season, Brayson was selected to the 3A All-State first lineup and played for the Utah Marshalls, an elite travel team, over the summer. He signed his National Letter of Intent to play for Houston in November.
“Signing day was a great experience. It was fun to be there with friends and family and people that care about me. It was exciting to take that next big step into my future.“
Brayson credits his father with not only fostering his early interest in sports, but providing opportunities that would challenge him and set him up for success. He’s a fan of five-time World Series champion Derek Jeter. “He’s competitive. He just likes to win,” Brayson says. “I admire his work ethic and how much he cares for the game.”
His motto? “Make your own luck.” Work hard to make something happen.
He goes into each game with his lucky charm, a Chapstick, tucked securely into his back left pocket. “I can’t play without it,” he says. “I don’t remember how [that superstition] started, but I gotta have it.”
Last year, Brayson notched a 5-4 pitching record, one save, and a remarkable 78 strikeouts. His batting average was .356 with 29 RBI including six home runs, the most ever hit by a junior in the school’s eight-year history. Although he signed as a pitcher, Beck believes Brayson is equally effective as a position player and hitter, something he hopes Houston coaches will recognize. “He’s arguably the best athlete at our school,” says Beck. “He would have been a phenomenal football or basketball player as well. I feel like we’re very fortunate to have him play baseball.”
Though sports, Brayson has learned perseverance. To put it in baseball terms, “You get 10 at bats. [In] seven of those you’re gonna fail, three you’re gonna do good, and three out of 10 is a good day,” he says. “Baseball taught me so much about the mental aspect of life, that there’s always a way to get through things.” • HSSI