When the school year ended, Anthony Holubecki had barely heard of IMG Academy.
A lot changed, and quickly, for the Kaneland fireballer, who announced Thursday that he's transferring to the prestigious developmental academy in Bradenton, Florida this fall.
Holubecki pitched in Florida at a travel tournament in early June. Shortly thereafter, Holubecki and his family heard from IMG Academy student-athlete advisor Jason Elias, and a visit to IMG was arranged. "Right away, I didn't really know what it was about until I went on a visit down there, and then I really figured it out," Holubecki said. "I know it's a big change but it seems like a good one."
IMG Academy's website notes a long line of eventual Major League Baseball players who trained at IMG Academy. Holubecki, a high school junior who has made a college verbal commitment to Notre Dame, hopes to join that club in the coming years.
"It was a big decision, but this is what I want to do," Holubecki said. "I want to go into Notre Dame as a freshman and make an impact or be ready for the MLB Draft in 2016."
The 16-year-old Elburn resident brought uncommon velocity to the mound as a high school underclassman.
Holubecki did not pitch for Kaneland's summer team this year, instead focusing on travel ball with his Elite Baseball Training team. He spoke with Knights coach Brian Aversa before publicly announcing his decision Thursday.
"He definitely has a gifted arm, a very live arm," Aversa said. "Anybody that throws 92 [mph] is going to catch somebody's eye. Hopefully when Anthony gets to that academy they're going to work on some of the things that are his weaknesses and continue to build on his strengths and really turn him into a complete pitcher. Right now, he's a fastball kid."
Aversa said he respects the "business decision" Holubecki and his family decided to make, and Holubecki wished his Knights teammates well next season.
Despite IMG Academy's reputation as a baseball grooming goliath, Holubecki said it was "a hard decision, for sure, to leave Kaneland," noting that he's never been away from home before. Still, he's optimistic the social transition won't be too unnerving.
"I think it'll be alright," Holubecki said. "I don't think it's going to be too tough to make friends down there. Everyone's an athlete there at the school, so you have something in common."
That will hold especially true for Holubecki's connection to Geneva's Nick Derr, a shortstop and Florida State recruit who decided at the start of the summer to transfer to IMG Academy. Derr also competes with the Elite Baseball Training travel team, and Holubecki said he and Derr already are corresponding about their intertwined futures.
The 6-foot-4, 185-pound Holubecki said training will begin as soon as he reports at IMG in late August. The academy's season will begin in February, when snow figures to still cover the ground back in Elburn.
"They're going to get me physically where I need to be … and then just developing pitches, adding more velocity – they do all of that," Holubecki said.
Holubecki, who will spend his weekend pitching at a travel tournament in Fort Myers, Florida, will have a little less than a month to enjoy himself with friends and family, then it will be time to start saying goodbye.
"Probably just spend time with people I've spent the first 16 years of my life with," he said. "But now it's a new chapter, I guess."
• Jay Schwab is sports editor in Shaw Media. He can be reached at 630-845-5382 or firstname.lastname@example.org.