Ben Haus—Waldie/Shaeffer FinalistPublished May 7, 2014 at 6:56 pm (Updated May 7, 2014 at 6:56 pm)
Ben Haus, Upper St. Clair
When Ben Haus strolled to the plate on opening day of the high school baseball season, the Upper St. Clair senior promptly drilled the first pitch into the outfield for a double. The 5-10, 170-pound senior outfielder has gone on to bat .519 this spring with 14 runs scored and 19 RBI. He maintains a .617 on-base percentage and has smacked six more two-baggers.
Yet, the first double remains etched in Jerry Malarkey’s memory. As Haus rounded first and headed to second base, the USC manager noted the improbability of the accomplishment.
“My only hope for Ben last fall was that he could walk again,” Malarkey said. “The worry back then wasn’t about him running.”
The concern was would Haus have a left leg. On Oct. 18, 2013, during the Panthers’ 54-0 football win against Plum, Haus shattered his tibia and fibula, in much the same fashion mixed martial artist Anderson da Silva had in December during the Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight bout. Immediately after two rods and a set of screws were placed in his extremity, Haus developed compartment syndrome. He underwent two more surgeries that placed and removed a temporary sponge in his leg so as to relieve the pressure on the appendage.
“It was an attempt to prevent me from losing my leg,” explained the son of Charles and Mary Jane Haus.
The procedure worked. Though Haus was sent home from the hospital after a 2.5-week stay, his recovery was far from over. For two months, he administered shots to his belly to prevent blood clots in his legs while he was confined to a wheelchair and eventually crutches. For three months, he rehabbed at David Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine Center in Mt. Lebanon.
“[Joe David] had worked with me on a previous injury so there was no way I wasn’t going back to him again,” Haus said.
Getting back to the diamond was not easy especially for Haus, who had been elected captain of the baseball team.
“It definitely was frustrating not being able to participate and run,” he said.
Plus, not in a captainship position, he explained, was it possible to be a leader. “I believe you have to be able to stand behind what you are saying. If you can’t there is no validity. People find it hard to listen to you if you can’t do it.”
Off the diamond, people listen to Haus because there is plenty that he can do. Academically, he owns a 4.08 GPA. He has achieved highest and high honor rolls each semester, even when he missed 1.5 months of schooling due to a concussion incurred during a freshman football game. Haus feels strongly about academics.
“Education is your ticket to doing something and pursuing goals,” said the National Honor Society member, who has also been nominated for Student of the Year honors.
As early as his sophomore year, Haus aimed to attend one of the military academies. This fall, he will attend Virginia Military Institute. He hopes to one day become a Navy Seal.
“VMI is the correct decision,” said Haus, who will have to pay his tuition his first year in Lexington before applying for a spot in the United States Navy Reserves program. “It’s a direct path to what I want to do. I am fully committed to that.”
Haus commits 100 percent to all that he does.
In addition to being a two-year starter in baseball, he excelled on USC’s back-to-back conference championship football teams. He had eight receptions for 100 yards and one touchdown as a wide receiver. He returned kick-offs and punts and played on a defense that produced six shutouts in nine regular season games.
Outside of athletics, Haus served as an attorney during the 2013 Mock Trial Competition between various other high schools. He sits on the leadership team for Athletes Taking Action, a peer-mentoring program for student-athletes. With the help of another student, Haus also planned, organized and scripted a presentation to middle school athletes about the transition to high school. According to Malarkey, the presentation, which dealt with the importance of making good academic, athletic and social choices, was well received and resulted in positive feedback.
“Ben’s maturity and his comfort and confidence in his own values and decisions are extremely impressive,” said Malarkey, who has doubled as a guidance counselor at USC for 36 years in addition to his coaching duties. “He is a focused young man with a strong set of values and deep faith, both of which constantly guide his behavior and decisions. He possesses exceptional character, courage and integrity. He is respectful of others and is a loyal and trusted friend.”
In other words, Haus is the ultimate team player, whether in athletics or in a future platoon. He refuses to look at his statistics, focusing rather on team goals. “You can’t get caught up with yourself when others are depending upon you. Your main interest should be concentrating on your team,” he said. “I try to do what I do silently. Perform for team rather than myself.”
Long after his playing days are over, Haus will be battling for the United States. Because of his military commitment, he has been nominated for the Waldie/Shaeffer Scholarship Award, sponsored by The Almanac. When he learned he had been named as one of five finalists, Haus researched the award and learned about the recognition for the two former area athletes, both Navy Academy graduates, killed or wounded in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the country.
“It’s such a huge honor,” said Haus, who was in elementary school that fateful day but did not fully understand the gravity of the events until studying the history in high school.
“We have been given so many great opportunities in this country,” he added. “And people have given so much to protect our freedoms. It’s time [for me] to give back. I don’t know any better way to do that than to serve myself.”