BIOGRAPHY & HISTORY

Steven Michael Bajenski was born on May 8th, 1992, a birthday he would share with his mother Karen. He came into this world, surrounded with friends and family filled with excitement and joy. The buzz he generated would set the tone as to how he would lead his life. Steven was destined to make a difference to all he encountered and leave a lasting impact wherever he went. However, few knew at that point how truly of a special gift the only son of Mark and Karen Bajenski would turn out to be. From day one and every single day for the next 17 + years, Steven Bajenski was a fighter. He was born w/an abnormal aortic valve, which required open heart surgery at 10 weeks old. He fought hard & came out of that surgery like a champ and never looked back. Even as an infant he had that “it” factor inside him. Nothing could ever stand in his way.Steven spent his childhood growing up in Mokena, attending all of the local public gradeschools, Mokena Elementary/Intermediate/Jr High. It was during these years that hislove for athletics began. Stevie stayed active in baseball, basketball & football. Despitebeing smaller in physical stature and being born with a heart defect, he never let thisdeter him from playing sports. In fact, his passion was growing stronger then most youngmen his age because he had to be more determined and work harder to achieve whatcame easier to others. It was in 7th grade, Stevie’s character would be tested once again.He was diagnosed with narrowing of the valve and told he had to give up participatingin basketball and football. While this latest set back saddened him to certain degree, hetook advantage of the situation and saw this an his opportunity to get better in the gamehe truly loved, baseball. He now would come to realize what his family had seen in himsince the age of 4 years old when we would beg his mom to throw pitch after pitch tohim, because his dad was @ work & his older sister threw (as Steve said)…stupid. Thefamily knew Steve was destined to be a ballplayer.Stevie’s Mokena baseball career was spent playing for his Dad in the Mokena Littleleague for the Mokena Thunder and travel for the Lincolnway Blue Demons. Here, helearned that when you’re small in stature, you need to be big in brains. Stevie was astudent of the game. He was easy to coach & eager to learn. When they crossed the whitelines onto the field they were player and coach. Off the field they were not only fatherand son, but best friends as well. Their bond was strong and it grew because of the gameof baseball. They shared wins & losses. But, most importantly, they shared time togethercreating memories that will never be forgotten. It was also around this time when Steviebecame known as Budgie. Always undersized, Stevie knew that if he was going to besuccessful and play at the next level, he would need to be fundamentally sound, do thelittle things well & outwork everyone (get better everyday). He loved this game andfigured the only way to get better is to play against the best competition.In the Spring of 2006, Stevie made the long trek from Mokena to Mount Carmel HighSchool. Many questioned his decision to travel such a long distance to go to school whenhe was surrounded with many great options much closer to home. The baseball program(Team concept), academics & history all played a significant role in his decision process.He became a 3rd generation Bajenski to attend Mt. Carmel (Grandfather Lenny ’57grad and his Dad Mark ’79). Stevie loved every minute of his time there. The familyatmosphere, the diversity, the academic challenges presented to him, and the overallexperience of molding himself into a man of great character made it the right choicefor him. Through his hard work and dedication Stevie was a standout in the classroom.Going into his senior year, he was ranked #4 in his graduating class with a 4.7 GPA on a4.0 scale and had just scored a 29 on his ACT. With a resume such as this, Stevie madea name for himself in the classroom, but it would be on the baseball field where he hislegend would be made. During his high school years baseball was divided into two areas.The Mount Carmel Caravan and The Illinois Sparks would both be proud to call himtheirs.In the summer of 2007, he joined the Illinois Sparks. He loved everything about being aSpark. The team provided him with a haven worthy enough to serve the biggest baseballenthusiast and give a player with a dream a chance to realize it. It was a perfect match.He loved the facility/dome. Where else would he get the opportunity to put in hours andhours of baseball work each week surrounded by teammates with the same passion ashis. What proved to be most valuable was the atmosphere and the friends it afforded himthe opportunity to meet. These guys shared his love of the game and his goal to alwaysget better. The fact that all the players were good, drove him to put out his best efforteveryday. It provided him with the next challenge he needed. It allowed him to faceadversity like he always did…with a smile on his face. He had a dream and he wasn’tgoing to let anyone or anything stand in his way of achieving it. Stevie loved everythingabout his Sparks experience, especially the coaches. These were guys that were allbaseball people and that he knew would make him better. Like Carmel, the Sparks werea perfect fit. He even loved the schedule, because he always looked forward playing thebest teams in the country. Stevie knew that to be the best, you have to beat the best.While Stevie played for the Sparks in the summer, the spring time was all about theCaravan. During his freshman and sophomore years he became a leader to his teammatesand received the admiration of his coaches because as Sophomore Coach Bob Kujawasaid, “He was the only player that played the game the right way every time out andwas all about the team.” Each of his first two years the name Bajenski was penciled intothe lineup card next to 2B day in and day out. Not because he was given preferentialtreatment, but because any time another player worked at his game enough to get into aposition to compete for the spot, Stevie would simply just out work him and get fartherahead. He believed that it was his spot to lose and you were not going to get it. He waschasing his dream and had no intention of being denied.According to Varsity Head Coach Brian Hurry, “He was an extremely hard workingkid, who earned everything he got both academically in the classroom & athleticallyon the baseball field”. He was smart enough to understand that when you’re small instature, you need to be big on brains. Stevie always was a student of the game, learningthe ins and outs of the game of baseball. Always undersized, he knew if he was goingto be successful and play at the next level, he would need to be fundamentally sound,do all the little things well and outwork everyone (get better everyday). While he wasbattling each and everyday on the field, throughout high school he continued to battleoff the field as well. After a successful freshman year he was diagnosed with moreblockage in the valve. Stevie underwent a successful Aortic Valve Ballooning and in3 weeks he was back to baseball, better than ever. Yet again in January 2009 morechallenges presented themselves. Steve was notified that his Aortic Valve was narrowing& another Ballooning procedure would need to take place. He had the procedure done,but unfortunately it didn’t work as well as the doctor’s had hoped. The doctor’s told theBajenski family that surgery was required and would need to happen relatively quickly.Stevie had asked if it could be put the surgery off until after his Junior year of high schoolseason and his summer Sparks season because he was on a mission. He had a job to doand a dream to chase. The surgeon agreed and Stevie went back to work to make sure thathe would be the starting 2B for his Caravan baseball team. His unrelenting work ethicpaid off and for the third time in three years, when his Caravan team took the field he gotthe starting nod.The 2009 Caravan and Sparks seasons were a success, but in Steve’s mind it wasn’tenough. There was only one way to reach his goals and he wouldn’t stop until he gotthere. Decisions were made and he was to undergo open-heart surgery once again inlate July. Now, they say everything happens for a reason and while we may never trulyunderstand why God called Stevie to start at second base for his team, all who knewStevie are left to be far better people for having known him and called him a friend, abrother, a son, a grandson, a teammate, a player, an inspiration, an idol, a hero, or a rolemodel. Steven was a man of integrity and character that could light up the room with hissmile. He was an impact player in the game of life. He lived a lifetime in his 17 shortyears and had a true passion for life, which centered around his love for family, friends,MC and baseball. Although his time with us wasn’t long enough, he touched thousandsof lives. Stevie taught us that each day is a gift. Be happy, be thankful, & live each dayto the fullest. Only worry about what you can control, not what you cannot. Play thecards dealt to you without complaint. Do it the right way & you’ll never have any regrets.View adversity as merely another challenge to overcome. Don’t ever back down. Alwaysfollow the golden rule. Be a team player. Make a difference everyday!

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