Peter Rondinone has his life pretty much all planned out. And that’s saying something because Rondinone just turned 18 on July 3.
But the kid who remembers being a nervous freshman vying to make the baseball team at Riverdale/Kingsbridge Academy four years ago already has a roadmap for his future. And the first stop is Baruch College this fall.
“My dad owns his own business, it’s a landscaping business, but he also does commercial cleaning,” Rondinone said. “And Baruch is a business school. I always wanted to take my dad’s business and do something with it, so I thought it would be smart to go to a business school.”
Rondinone’s confident manner is a far cry from his early days at RKA when he admits being a nervous high school newbie.
“High school just went by so fast,” Rondinone said. “It honestly feels like last year I was a freshman and sweating and going crazy trying to make the team. And now I just finished up my last year as a high school baseball player. It couldn’t have gone any faster.”
By the way, that nervous freshman became a four-year starter for the Tigers, who he helped to a 10-5 record this past season.
And Rondinone credits his coach John Reingold in helping him navigate his high school years.
“He’s a little bit of a crazy guy, but he teaches you a lot of good life lessons,” Rondinone said. “He’s not only a coach, he’s sort of like a life mentor. He always told me to be passionate about what you do. You always have to give your hardest effort because why would you want to sell yourself short on what you could potentially do?”
In fact, the Tigers had a phrase: “You get better or you get worse. No one stays the same.”
“And that goes for every day because when you wake up, your decisions that day can make you a better person,” Rondinone said. “Or, you can take a step back.”
It was baseball — and Reingold’s guidance — that helped Rondinone mature from the wild child he said he was before reaching high school.
“I was a crazy little kid in elementary school and middle school,” Rondinone said. “I couldn’t sit down, and I wouldn’t stop talking. But I changed my whole mindset around once Reingold got into my life with baseball. He told me how life was going to be outside of high school. He said you’re going to have someone on you and it might not be someone you get along with, but that’s just life.”
Rondinone celebrated his RKA graduation with a family trip to the Caribbean. It gave him time to reflect on his high school career. But his biggest recollections from high school actually don’t include anything from the baseball diamond.
“I think my best memory was showing my teachers that I’m a different student than what they think most student-athletes are,” Rondinone said. “I liked proving to my teachers that I could be one of the smartest students in their class, and that I also play sports. I was always there on time, and I was always at practice. And I wasn’t goofing off.
“I just liked showing people that I was mature enough to do both things. I did that, and I made my parents proud because that’s what they always wanted me to do.”
And now with his high school career complete, Rondinone will bring his sweet stroke and solid glove to Baruch, joining former RKA teammate Jake Auerbach. It’s where he also plans to learn the business skills necessary to one day follow his dream and take over the family business.
While the move on to college is an exciting one, there is also some sadness that comes with the end of his high school days.
“A lot of people are happy that they are moving on, but I think it’s a little bittersweet for me because I’m not going to see a lot of the people I’m used to seeing every day,” Rondinone said.
“I know college is going to be a lot harder than high school. But I’m ready for the challenge. I’m ready for college. But it is a little bittersweet.”