Tatted Up: CSU baseball players explain their tattoos

Sergio Santistevan

Tattoos have become a new art, a way to tell a story or symbolize something that words cannot explain.

Many athletes today dawn tattoos to represent themselves as a person. The tattoos show that there is a real person behind the jersey, someone we can all relate too. 

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Some of the sports world’s biggest names, including David Beckham, LeBron James and Conor McGregor have noticeable and iconic tattoos. Others, like Ryan Lochte and Stephen Curry, have tattoos that are relatively unnoticeable.

The Colorado State club baseball team can relate to both sides, as some players having one tattoo and others have their body covered in them. Some players on the team shared the meaning behind their tattoos. 

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  • CSU Rams Baseball Outfielder Cody Byrnes shows his Minnesota and mountain tattoos after playing the University of Colorado on April 29. (Colin Shepherd | Collegian)

  • CSU Rams senior utility player, Austin Trinidad, smiles as he shows of his body tattoos at practice on April 24. The tattoos are dedicated to his late mother. (Mackenzie Boltz | Collegian)

  • CSU Rams Baseball Outfielder Brandon Severinsen shows off his Hawaiian turtle tattoo after playing the Univeristy of Colorado on April 29. (Colin Shepherd | Collegian)

  • CSU Rams Outfielder and Pitcher Jared Van Vark shows his viking symbol tattoo after playing the University of Colorado on April 29. (Colin Shepherd | Collegian)

  • CSU Rams First Baseman Luke Demolli shows his self-done mountain stick and poke tattoo after playing the University of Colorado on April 29. (Colin Shepherd | Collegian)

  • CSU Rams Baseball Middle Infielder Gage O’Niel shows his tribal shoulder tattoo after playing the University of Colorado on April 29. (Colin Shepherd | Collegian)

  • CSU Rams baseball pitcher, Phelan Castellano, shows off his Medieval Celtic language, Ogham, tattoo at an April 24 practice. (Mackenzie Boltz | Collegian)

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Outfielder, Cody Byrnes: state of Minnesota and a mountain

Two tattoos with a whole lot of meaning are represented on Byrnes’ body.

The tattoo on his arm is an outline of Minnesota, with the laces around it representing baseball. Inside the outline lies a portrait of a lake in Minnesota that his grandparents lived on.

“Both my grandparents lived on a lake, and they passed away a couple years back,” he said. “I thought it would be a good way to honor them.”

Four years later, Byrnes decided to get another tattoo, something simpler.

Byrnes dedicated the right corner of his back to a black and white mountain because he has lived most of his life in Colorado and takes pride in doing so.

He says the more painful of the two was definitely the Minnesota one because of all the color and the two-and-a-half-hour time span it took to complete it.

Utility Player, Austin Trinidad: An angel with praying hands, Texas star, a heart and a cactus

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Trinidad’s entire body is blanketed in tattoos. The tattoos on Trinidad’s body are not for jokes, messages or self-expression, but for his mother.

Trinidad’s mother passed away his senior year of high school after a battle with stomach cancer. He got his tattoos in memory of her.

His family practices Catholicism and as a way to represent their religion, he got an angel with praying hands on the side. To honor the state where his family lived for 10 years, he got a tattoo of the Texas star with purple, a color that symbolizes stomach cancer’s ribbon.

Out of all the tattoos, Trinidad’s favorite one is that of the heart.

“It’s the classic tattoo that says ‘mom’ in the middle and the day she was born and the day she died,” Trinidad said.

However, there is one tattoo that does not represent his mother.

“I have another one my calf for my grandpa that passed away,” he said. “We’re Mexican so we have a lot of cactuses growing…and he had a cactus garden, so I got a cactus with a sombrero and ‘papa’ underneath it.”

Outfielder, Brandon Severinsen: Hawaiian turtle

A Hawaiian turtle is not one of the most common tattoos people see, but Severinsen rocks the Hawaiian design on his right arm. The outfielder got the tattoo two years ago to reflect his personality and outlook on life.

“I like how turtles are never able to get lonely when they are out in the ocean,” he said. “They’re always peaceful…find their way home…always happy…always give life and do what they need to do.”

Outfielder/pitcher, Jared Van Vark: Old viking symbol

Van Vark’s old Viking symbol stirred up some tension with his mother when he got the tattoo two years ago, right after his 18th birthday. His mother was not the biggest supporter of his decision; however, she eventually became accepting of his tattoo because of how small it was and the meaning behind it.

“It means create your own reality,” he said. “We all live in our own kind of reality, so might as well live in one that I like, and that I’m happy with.”

First baseman, Luke Demolli: Mountain tattoo

Demolli is from Colorado Springs, Colorado aiding his love for spending time at high altitudes. Demolli has probably the most infamous tattoo story on the team.

He was 19 years old, and it was the summer after graduating high school with little to do before departing for college in the fall. During that time, he was feeling a little adventurous and creative, so he decided to get a tattoo, but did not go to a professional. 

“I did it to myself,” he said. “I (stuck) and poked it on there.”

His parents did not find out for a while, but once they did, Demolli said they were okay with the minor mark. 

Middle infielder, Gage O’Neil: Tribal

O’Neil decided to keep it in the family, and get the same exact tattoo as his grandfather, of whom he shares the same birthday with. The tribal on his arm required a lot of pain tolerance, though.

“It was (painful),” he said. “It hit a nerve on the side of my neck…and on the collarbone too.”

Yet, the tribal is still not a finished product. O’Neil hopes to add to it by honoring his grandfather more. He wants to get his grandfathers name on the inside, along with their shared birthday. 

Pitcher, Phelan Castellano: “Fortitude”

Right after his senior year of high school, Castellano decided to get a tattoo. The tattoo symbolizes the way he wants to live his life. His tattoo goes from under his arm to his elbow and spells out the word “fortitude” in the Medieval Celtic language, Ogham.

At first, his parents were not the biggest supporters once he brought up the idea, but he persuaded them.

“They were kind of concerned at first,” he said. “I explained going into adulthood I wanted to live my life that way, just give me something for the rest of my life to look at and remind me how I wanted to live.”

After coming on board to the idea, his mom helped him draw out the dashes of each line that represents a letter from the language.

This season, Castellano’s tattoo has been the message that the team rallies around. Despite suffering a slow start to the season, the Rams have shown fortitude on their way to a 15-game winning streak, an homage to the message from Castellano. 

Collegian sports reporter Sergio Santistevan can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @TheRealsSergio