LINCOLN — Will Jesske didn’t fall in love with baseball because he watched pro teams. It wasn't the pristine grass fields or home runs, either.
Instead, it was Wiffle Ball.
Those games against his neighborhood friends helped Jesske find a passion for the sport. They called themselves the “Williamsburg Wiffle Ball group,” and like many kids in this state, had dreams of playing baseball at Nebraska.
But those childhood moments only last so long. Some members of the group moved away, other dreams changed. But not Jesske's.
On Wednesday, Jesske’s dream turned into reality as the Lincoln Southeast senior announced his commitment to Nebraska.
“My dream was always to go to Nebraska and it came true today,” the infielder said.
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A former Wichita State commit, it wasn’t clear if Jesske would get his chance with the Huskers.
He reopened his recruitment Jan. 10, understanding that many colleges were low on spots for high school seniors. There was plenty of interest from the state’s other Division I schools, Creighton and UNO, but Jesske had his sights set on the Huskers.
And after taking part in Nebraska's prospect camp over the weekend, things finally came together.
“I pretty much took a 100% risk, I had offers elsewhere if it didn’t work out but I really wanted to stay close to home,” Jesske said. “After the camp, we had a really good talk and came up with a plan for me.”
It’s been a long journey, and Jesske is quick to point out all the people who helped him get to this point. His youth baseball teams — the Lincoln Rebels and Omaha Tigers — aided his early development before sessions with Todd Mosser at The Yard helped Jesske hone his skills in high school.
Of course, his coaches at Southeast helped, too.
Jesske paid his dues as a freshman, working on the mental side when going through slumps.
“The coaches have provided me with so much, and people away from baseball, too,” Jesske said. “My parents were always supportive of me if I had a bad game, and that’s just part of baseball and part of life.
"I owe this to the people that helped me along the way.”
Jesske earned honorable mention honors as a sophomore, but his stats jumped his junior year.
He hit .495 with a slugging percentage of .743 to go with three home runs and 40-plus RBIs as Southeast made the state tournament. Jesske also only struck out five times in 100-plus plate appearances.
“Will not only is one of the best hitters I have coached, but one of the best teammates,” Knights coach Montana Jones said in May. “He gets just as much joy out of his teammates' success as his own."
Jesske will team up with Southeast teammate Max Buettenback as part of Nebraska's 2023 recruiting class. Beatrice’s Tucker Timmerman and Elkhorn North’s Ryan Harrahill are the Huskers' other 2023 in-state commits.
A third baseman for Southeast, Jesske projects as a utility player capable of playing the corner infield or corner outfield positions in college.
“I just love to play the game. I’ll play at any time of day and any time of night,” Jesske said. “I just want to live in the moment and take advantage of every single day because I’m living my dreams now.”