Dynamic Duo: Dylan and Dylan
Until seventh inning, the score had been tied 0-0. Number 36, who had just scored a double and brought one of the runners home, smiled at number 16, who pitched and closed the game for the travel ball team’s first championship victory. Gathering together, the team dogpiled onto each other.
Fast forward to now, best friends, number 16, pitcher senior Dylan Needham and number 36, second baseman senior Dylan Zavala, both earned scholarships to play baseball at University of New Mexico.
Although Zavala began playing at four years old and Needham began at seven years old, the two first met in first grade at Vejar Elementary School. After finding out that they were going to be on the same team for Walnut PONY Baseball, the pair became warm up partners.
“We became friends because we had common interests,” Zavala said. “We played baseball, and we happened to be in the same league together. From there, he became one of my best friends.”
Sharing the same group of friends, the pair of Dylans remained best friends throughout middle school and even roomed together at Camp Arrowhead, the annual sixth grade trip at Suzanne.
“I’ve learned that baseball’s a small world and the friendships you build are gonna last a long time through baseball. [Your teammates] don’t only become your best friends, they just become like family to you, they’re your brothers,” Zavala said. “We have a tight group of friends here, at Walnut on the baseball team. We basically do everything together, we can tell each other anything we want.”
However, after middle school, Zavala moved to Bishop Amat temporarily. When Zavala returned to Walnut High School two years later, in his junior year, their bond strengthened.
“It was like he never really left. We were still really good friends. He fit in perfectly with the baseball team,” Needham said. “ Normally, just before games, we usually pump each other up. We start getting loud. He’s probably the loudest person there.”
Both had connections to former Walnut baseball player Cody Dye, who currently plays for University of New Mexico. Through this mutual friend, Zavala and Needham were able to find the coaches’ phone numbers and maintain contact with the school throughout the summer. Following a visit to one of their games, the coaches were pleased with the players’ performance and gave them a call asking them to join the school’s baseball program.
“They have a really good program, and they won their conference the past two years. I’ve visited the campus, and I liked the area. Besides, I have friends going there, and I’m really lucky because you don’t really get to go college with your friends,” Needham said. “Baseball is my passion. I love it, and it’s what I hopefully want to do with my life.”
Now, the two are committed to University of New Mexico on scholarships and plan to make their friendship last.
“I’m so lucky to go to New Mexico with the other Dylan because I played with him on my first baseball team, then I played with him in high school and now, I’m going to get to play in college with him,” Needham said. “ You never really hear people from the same high school going to the same college, and the fact that we’re really good friends, we have known each other forever and we both have the same name, there can’t be a bigger coincidence.”
By Kevin Arifin, Arts editor
Photo by Jeffrey Tran