The concrete of Nick Zwack's driveway in Monticello, Minnesota, knew he was there. It felt him pacing up and down anxiously as picks and rounds passed in this week's 2021 Major League Baseball Draft.
"I paced up and down the driveway for two days straight," Zwack laughed.
The 6-foot-3, 230-pound left-handed pitcher, a recent graduate of Xavier University, could finally stop pacing Tuesday.
Zwack heard his grandmother yell from the backyard as his mom and his girlfriend, Sydney Schembri, a women's soccer player at Xavier, saw that he was drafted in the 17th round by the New York Mets.
"My girlfriend had the (MLB Draft) tracker up and she showed my parents and my sister because she didn't know what the Mets logo was," Zwack said. "That's right when I got a call from my advisor and he said, 'You're a Met.'
"It was probably the most relief I've ever had my entire life."
Relief was there because this is what he wanted. It's what he worked for.
There are certainties that come through struggle and those moments seem more memorable because they often arrive at an important junction in a person's life.
That crossroad came for Zwack two years ago as a sophomore at Xavier.
Zwack chose baseball. The former high school quarterback had offers to play Division II football. He also could have pursued hockey, his first love, at the Division I level in college.
"I've been playing hockey since I was like 3," Zwack said. "I actually quit baseball in high school. I was all-in on hockey."
Zwack's high school baseball coach reminded him that as a tall left-handed pitcher he would have the opportunity to play Division I ball if he wanted. His parents told him he didn't have to make a decision right away, so he continued playing three sports.
Sure enough, baseball offers began to roll in and he jumped on one from Xavier.
He knew he'd made the right choice, but it was a choice that came with uncertainty and produced a seed of doubt.
"There was a time my sophomore when I wasn't doing too well," said Zwack. "And I kind of just sat back and was wondering if I made the right choice. And that was kind of the turning point for me. I said, 'Well, I'm here, I've made my decision. I'm playing baseball and I'm gonna do it.'"
At the start of that sophomore season, Zwack was the Saturday starter. He pitched well and was moved up to the Friday starter slot. From there, though, the road got rocky, and doubt started to sweep in like a big breaking ball.
"I ended up being moved out of the starter roll ... I got kind of moved to the bullpen," he said. "I struggled. I was a completely different pitcher at the time."
Zwack remembers standing in the outfield before a game during batting practice. He had a conversation with a teammate.
"It wasn't fun anymore," he said. "It just felt like everything I did was a chore. And I can remember ... talking with my buddy, just saying, 'You have to have fun with it. There's no way to keep doing this, keep struggling like this not enjoying baseball.'
"That was the turning point for me."
Following that sophomore season, Zwack headed to play in the Cape Cod summer league.
"To already have my Cape Cod contract signed and for me to struggle that badly, I was nervous to fly out there," said Zwack. "When I got there, confidence for me was at an all-time low. It was everything from I didn't belong there, to I can't do this."
Zwack made three or four mechanical adjustments during summer ball and it ignited "a new love for baseball that was huge in me actually being able to enjoy it to the point where I wanted to keep playing it after college."
Everything changed in the snap of a finger, he said.
When he returned to Xavier for fall ball a few months later, Zwack felt like he was trending upward. He brought his adjustments and a renewed attitude back with him.
He threw well to start his junior season – a 2.31 earned-run average with 28 strikeouts in four starts. Then, the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the season. Another consequence of the pandemic was that last year's MLB Draft was shortened from 40 rounds to five rounds. Zwack made the decision to return to school for his senior season and had another good year as the Musketeers' ace, posting a 6-5 record with a 3.15 ERA and 75 strikeouts in 80 innings.
Zwack called it an unbelievable feeling when the moment finally arrived on the third day of the draft. The Mets and his agent are working on his contract. This weekend he'll head to Port St. Lucie, Florida, where the Mets' low A-ball franchise is located.
This time next week Zwack's professional baseball career will be underway.
He's happy with the way things turned out.
"What I make of it is the way things have transpired is the way they were supposed to," he said. "Looking back and wondering how things could have been different, there's no point. At that turning point for me my sophomore year, I took it and you just have to run with it. To be able to keep moving forward through that was something I'll never forget. Being able to keep going."