Equipped to Lead and Succeed

USF Student Juggles Law and Baseball

by Evan Elliot, USF News

Joe Soberon is a first-year student in the School of Law and a starting pitcher for the Division I Dons baseball team — at the same time.


“It’s busy but it’s doable,” Soberon said. “My coaches make sure I don’t miss too many classes when we go on the road, and some of my professors have moved tests and moot court dates to work with the baseball schedule. Everyone here has been accommodating. For the most part, I just fight whatever fire is burning hottest.”

Joe Soberon

At this time last year, Soberon was a junior sociology major at UC San Diego. He played baseball in his second and third years there but not in his first year, when he had surgery to repair a partial UCL (ulnar collateral ligament) tear in his elbow.

“I couldn’t play my first year, so I loaded up on classes,” he said. He graduated in three years.

At the end of his final year at UC San Diego, Soberon entered the transfer portal and then applied to USF School of Law. “I wanted to come home and play baseball where my parents and other family could watch me,” he said. He was born and raised in Concord.

Last fall, Soberon settled in at USF. This spring, with baseball season underway, he spends about 20 hours a week on baseball and at least 30 hours a week on law school.

“I have law classmates in their 30s who tease me for being a baseball player and I have teammates in their late teens and early 20s who tease me for being a law student, and I love it,” Soberon said. “Some of my classmates have attended all the home games I’ve pitched in.”

When asked to compare USF to UC San Diego, Soberon mentions class sizes. “In San Diego, most of my classes had around 300 students and I got to know maybe two professors in my three years there,” he said. “At USF, the classes are small and I know all of my professors. I can stay after class and talk to my professors, who are mostly former judges or practicing attorneys. And my counselors, too. I can always go upstairs and talk with them about internships and careers. It feels like a family atmosphere.”

Soberon said that while baseball and law are separate pursuits, at USF they mesh.

“At law school orientation last fall, they had us meditate each day and they told us three things: ‘Make sure you’re being physically active. Do something that brings you joy. Make sure you have a life outside of law school.’ I was like, OK, I get all three of those things just from being a part of my baseball team.”

At the same time, “the baseball coaches at USF tell us to have a life outside of baseball and really commit to the education we are receiving, so it all works out.”

Soberon notes that the baseball team’s GPA last fall semester was 3.44. “That’s high!” he said. “I actually brought it down with my 3.23. That’s the first time I ever brought down a team GPA. But hey, law school’s a little different.”

So far this season, Soberon has pitched in three wins and one loss. In the classroom, he’s aiming toward sports law.

“I started out interested in environmental law, criminal law, big law, but I’ve decided to stay in the sports world for as long as I can — as a player now and as a lawyer in the future. So that means sports law, whether that’s being an agent or working in-house with a team or working in the sports department of a private firm.”