Stephen Knez shows that being a social influencer and baseball player goes hand in hand.
By Benjamin Royer, Staff Writer
Valley College’s baseball team has not been able to hit the field for a game since last season, but outfielder Stephen Knez keeps his eye on the ball and the views online.
After leaving Arkansas Tech University, Knez turned to Valley for his baseball opportunities. Documenting his career and aspirations through YouTube shows his life to where he is now, step by step. His self-titled YouTube channel is dedicated to showing his journey through baseball.
“I came up with the generation of when YouTube started to get super popular. So, I would always watch fitness YouTubers like Steve Cook and others,” Knez said. “I was like, I want to be a fitness influencer one day. Why couldn’t I do it? Might as well start with documenting my journey even if it was not where I wanted it to be.”
Knez puts out videos week-to-week focusing on his baseball talent, his friends and other baseball-related content. Even he cannot imagine where this journey has taken him.
“If I were to see myself and see where I took it to the future, I probably would not believe myself,” Knez said. “I would be like dang dude, I was just putting out videos to have fun, for the hopes of it becoming something.”
On his YouTube channel, there is a series which he calls “Day In The Life.” This focuses on himself and other baseball players vlogging as they compare and contrast their lives in baseball.
“I developed this format based on one of my buddies, ‘Adventure Athlete’ where we could do a collab where we could show each other’s points of view. We could compare and contrast the views,” Knez said. “Some of them have solid views. One of the videos [is] with my buddy Hayden Cantrelle, who plays with the [Milwaukee] Brewers now. That video has 200,000 views or something like that. So I was like, why don’t we keep on doing this?”
These videos have kept his 62.3 thousand subscribers involved throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Knez is working hard to maintain his goals and work ethic, whether a season is to come or not.
“My friend and I, Thomas Keller, we started going to the field every day,” Knez said. “We were going to different random fields across the San Fernando Valley. Just making sure that we got on. Making sure that we got our long toss in, our ground balls in. I just took it into my own hands.”
Knez has a merchandise brand called Valley Boys that he says encompasses his “morals and values.” Knez is proud of what it has become.
“I have created this nice little community on my social media where people will comment, Valley Boys for life!” Knez said. “It really pumps people up.”
Knez looks to transfer from Valley to continue his baseball career and reach back into a four-year collegiate program. He looks to the bright side of what could come in the future.
“There is a lot of strategies and ways that I have been trying to go about it. I have been trying to give myself the best opportunity to get recruited in many different avenues,” Knez said. “I am lucky compared to other JUCO guys. We got our season canceled. I am lucky that I have a social media following. I can ask my followers, ‘Hey please go retweet this’ and the future college that I could play for could be like, ‘Sweet, I like this guy, let’s go hit him up.’”