Winnetka, Sports

Athlete of the Week: 10 questions with James Novakovic, New Trier baseball

James Novakovic is a senior shortstop for the Trevians. He is in his third season as a starter and is committed to Purdue University.

1. Do you have any pregame rituals or superstitions?

Actually, I kind of do. It gets a little deep actually. Before the start of a game, I sit by myself. My grandpa passed away before I was born and he was adamant about me playing baseball and he was going to build me a field. So I close my eyes and take 30 seconds, praise him and say he’s watching me play right now and use it as motivation before very game. It’s always helped me.

2. Why is Purdue a good fit for you?

Among a lot of things that I loved about the school, one of main things that stuck out — obviously everyone will say how well they get along with coaches — is I really feel my coaches and I built a bond since my sophomore year. We’ve been building a strong relationship. They praise me, give me tips, I send them videos. I think the best fit for me is the coaches. And a side thing is I always wanted to play in the Big Ten. My uncle went to Purdue and I’ve been to the campus and loved it.

3. Who is your favorite athlete?

Mike Trout (OF – Los Angeles Angels). I’ve kind of used him as a role model for playing baseball. He’s been considered the best player in the league — before Shohei (Ohtani). His mindset on certain things is what I like the most. He’s a down-to-earth dude, just being so good and also a good person. I’ve always looked up to him as a player and a person.

4. What is your dream job?

I’ve always thought the business route is what I wanted to do. Maybe management, being able to become in charge of a company, working my way through a business, maybe with finance. My dad was a doctor, my mom was a nurse, and I never really found that interest like they did. I’ve mostly just thought the business route.

5. If you could play another sport, what would it be?

Probably hockey. Just because I’ve lived in Wilmette a while, half my friend group plays hockey and I’ve always watched their games. It’s super interesting to me. It’s competitive and fast-paced too. It’s different than what I’m used to playing.

6. Would you rather hit a walk-off homer or make an insane game-saving play?

The shortstop in me is saying making a really cool play to end a game. But I could go both routes. Both would be pretty exciting, but probably making a cool play.

7. What is your favorite thing to do off the field?

I have a really good group of friends and love hanging out with them, going to the beach or doing whatever. I like going to Cubs games. I always love going to watch sports games in general. It’s always fun for me. I enjoy hanging out with my family as well.

8. If you’re in Walgreens with a couple bucks, what are you buying?

I always go for a Sour Patch Watermelon and always have to get an Arizona — Arnold Palmer flavor. They are always a dollar. Can’t go wrong.

9. What is something people don’t know about you?

I’m partially color blind. When I was younger I did an eye test, the doctor would flip through pages of circles and colors and I’d just have to say skip. I’ve lived with it but it’s nothing big. I struggle with blues and purples the most, red and greens depending on the shade, yellow and orange as well. I just mix them up.

10. This team is off to a 7-3 start, how is it feeling and what are the expectations?

To be honest, I think this team has a whole lot of talent and on top of that every person on team is a good person and with that I think we click really well, chemistry-wise. It’s really early on, but I feel can go up to anyone on the team and have a conversation. It’s kind of what it was last year. … We got along so well and it helped us go so far. Same this year. I feel we can win a state championship without a doubt. It’s just about everything falling into place and I think the chemistry can take us far.

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joe coughlin
Joe Coughlin

Joe Coughlin is a co-founder and the editor in chief of The Record. He leads investigative reporting and reports on anything else needed. Joe has been recognized for his investigative reporting and sports reporting, feature writing and photojournalism. Follow Joe on Twitter @joec2319

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