NDSU’s Gonnella Does More Than Score Touchdowns, He Hits Baseballs

The bison running back spent the summer with the Arizona Diamondbacks

FARGO, N.D. — Being a multi-sport athlete in high school is common, however, once you get to the college ranks, carrying the load of two sports– becomes a little harder. That’s not the case for North Dakota State running back Dominic Gonnella.

When Bison nation is not cheering loudly for him on the football field, Dominic Gonnella’s second calling is baseball. The sophomore running back spent the summer with the Arizona Diamondbacks in extended spring training and rookie ball..

For the Riverview Florida native, the love for playing both sports came at a young age and can’t imagine one without the other.

“I’ve been playing both since I was four. It’s always the same cycle. I play football and I play baseball,” Gonnella said. “Every year, boom, boom, boom, boom. Been doing that my whole life so it’s even weird to not be doing one of them. When high school was coming to an end, I didn’t know what I was going to do. Whatever opportunities come, I hope they get picked for me and that didn’t happen so I ended up able to play both.”

“Our organization is all about culture and allowing our players to be the individual that they are. “We actually love and encourage the fact that Dom is a really good football player.”

Gonnella was signed by the D’Backs out of Bloomingdale high school. After having a spring football season at NDSU it took almost a full calendar year before grabbing a bat and ball again.
When arriving at the facility in Scottsdale, his hitting coach Casey Chenoweth, had worked with other athletes who played multiple sports before and knew the approach to take.

“You know that they are pretty ridiculous athletes. Having them be versatile and be able to do different things,” Chenoweth said. “It allows their body to open up to movements and changes as demanding as professional baseball is.”

A true centerfielder, Gonnella saw action in all three outfield spots throughout the summer. While he was there opportunities to pick the brains of major leaguers Asdrubal Cabrera, Kole Calhoun, and Nick Heath provided advice that can translate back to football as the fall approaches.

“Everything you try to do be the greatest as possible. In as short amount of time as you can,” Gonnella said. “Never take days off because oh, I need to rest for this weekend. No matter what you’re doing, you can just accomplish it by focusing on it and training on it every single day.”

“He can absolutely fly. He is super fast. He came in with an attitude ready to work,” Chenoweth said. “He got after it every single day. Super disciplined. Super hungry to learn. Super hungry to better in every way of the game.”

Gonella still has at least three seasons left continuing to run for touchdowns at the FargoDome and the Diamondbacks know that. Just seeing how impressive he was in the short time with them they’re looking forward to next spring and untapping more of his baseball athleticism.

“His ability to be versatile and his ability to learn and be hungry for information and just the growth we saw, I think we’re really excited for what it’s going to look like going forward,” Chenoweth said.

“This year was a little bit different and I just have to get right back into the mental aspect of football a little bit quicker than I usually would,” Gonnella said.”

Gonnella also mentioned training with the Diamondbacks helped his mental strength and confidence along with power in his arms and legs to improve bat speed. He says that makes for becoming a better member of the green and gold and the mindset already developed of being a winner.

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