Featured Athlete: Kent Leng

By Sports & Health Reporter

Kent Leng, a senior business & entrepreneurship major, grew up with two passions: baseball and snowboarding. While he participated in both sports throughout his childhood, he ultimately chose to focus on snowboarding during his sophomore year of high school. After graduating high school in 2008, he spent a year in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, and two years in Salt Lake City, Utah, producing snowboarding videos. 

Leng’s passion for snowboarding inspired him to pursue a job with Vans as a student marketer, where he is currently creating an art gallery with the company that will premiere at Manifest.  

He returned to the baseball diamond in the fall as a Columbia Renegade after the team’s co-captain, Toby Pechner, invited Leng to try out. Leng, a native of Barrington, Illinois, grew up playing second base but transitioned to shortstop and third base for this season. The highlight of his baseball career occurred in a Renegades uniform, as he hit his first home run this year. 

The Chronicle spoke with Leng about his experience playing for the Renegades, his baseball career and working with Vans. 

THE CHRONICLE: How did you get involved with baseball?

KENT LENG: I grew up playing baseball my whole life. My dad and brother are big into baseball. We had a batting cage in my front yard. My team would practice at my house. It’s been a big part of my athletic life. I don’t remember when I was not playing baseball.

How did playing for the Renegades differ from other teams you’ve played for?

It’s more of just a hobby. Here at Columbia, it’s something you do to meet people and get some exercise. We had a relatively good squad compared to the past [from what] I’ve heard. My high school team was extremely competitive. That’s how some people paid their way through college, so they were really banking on it. Some people are still playing baseball now that I grew up [playing with], like in the minors. I grew up with really competitive baseball players that were going to do something with baseball. My high school career compared to now, it’s night and day.

Why did you choose Columbia?

Snowboarding took over my life, so I went out west for a few years to snowboard and work, and then I came back because I figured it was time to get an education. A few of my friends had gone here, so I figured I like the people, I like the location, so here I am. 

Why did you pursue snowboarding rather than baseball?

I chose snowboarding sophomore year of high school. I’m a good athlete, but because of my height I wasn’t really going to go on to something that meant something professionally. I was like I’m a pretty good snowboarder, let’s see where this goes [because] baseball obviously isn’t in the cards because I’m not 6-foot-5. You can be a good athlete in baseball, but you have to have a good baseball IQ. You have to know what’s going on at all times on the field. I’m not 100 percent perfect on my baseball IQ. It wasn’t that hard [to choose] because I knew my strengths and my weaknesses. 

What did you enjoy about playing baseball at Columbia?

I had fun with the people. It’s Columbia—we’re here to work on getting better at something and then you get a job and you become a real adult. If you take baseball seriously at Columbia, that’s your downfall already. It’s an activity, it’s how you get exercise. It gets intense at times, and you become naturally competitive and you want to win and do the best that you can. It’s good to be out there with some friends playing the sport. 

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