Feb. 18, 2010
By MOISEKAPENDA BOWER
Setting an example is what matters most to Rick Hague. True leadership isn't necessarily defined by demonstrative actions or communicating with peers in a tone that demands attention, but is instead earned by establishing a consistent pattern of behavior that commands respect.
Hague believed that truth even as a freshman shortstop on the Rice baseball team. That 2008 squad was loaded with strong personalities and veterans familiar with success on the field and off of it, but even as Hague followed their lead, he prepared himself for the time when he would be at the forefront being observed by the next wave of neophytes.
That time is now. Hague has All-American credentials as a junior shortstop, was selected as a peer academic advisor for the team, and serves as the de facto secretary for the Baseball Bible Study group that has been a part of his routine since he arrived on South Main. Managing those tasks requires self-discipline and a commitment to the betterment of others, attributes befitting someone striving to be an earnest leader.
"It's always been a goal of mine to have a leadership role on a team that I'm on," Hague said. "Just being the shortstop, wanting to be in the middle of the (batting) order and being that high-caliber player, you want to be the leader that comes along with that.
"I'm not a real outspoken leader. The way I try to do it is just try to do things as correctly as I can, and if people are watching they'll see that and maybe copy that. Leaders that call out or demand things ... their followers will watch and say, `If he screws up, I'm going to get him.' I try to do things correctly, and it's put me in a leadership position by doing that."
Former Rice baseball players Jacob Baker and Damon Thames lead the Baseball Bible Study, a group that caught Hague's interest when he visited Rice while at Klein Collins High School. Former Rice All-American Joe Savery hosted Hague on that visit, and when Hague joined as a freshman, current San Diego Padres farmhand Adam Zornes played a significant role in the group among current players. That leadership role was passed to senior first baseman Jimmy Comerota last year and Hague this year, a position Hague relishes because it provides an opportunity for the group to share their experiences with their peers.
There was self-discovery in that process, for when Hague encountered difficulties on the field as a sophomore, the camaraderie offered by others helped steer him through those troubled times. Now, he can share his perspective with those who may meet similar turbulence.
"I found that if you're not involved with other people where you can see how things are working in their lives, you really fall away from it because you feel like you're alone in everything," Hague said. "Whenever you're able to see that people are struggling with the same things, you really feel a connection and it helps you to get through the tough times.
"I'm surprised at how much my outlook on things has changed. When I came in as a freshman a lot of alumni told me that Rice is a place where you can't show up and leave as the same person, and I just took it for what they were saying. Truthfully, with the struggles I went through last year compared to where I am now, I feel like such a stronger person."
Rick Hague derived strength from his commitment to setting a positive example of leadership, and that makes him one of Tomorrow's Leaders.