Charlotte Catholic junior baseball player Troy Merchel has overcome obstacles much bigger than anything he will ever face on a baseball field.  The son of Mike and Vicki Merchel was born with a Ventricular Septal Defect,  a hole in his heart.  Through surgeries, Troy has been able to overcome this challenge and now has what is considered a normal heart and strong pitching arm.   Troy battled his way past early setbacks in life to now become a valuable left-handed pitcher and first baseman for Charlotte Catholic and for his showcase team, Team Carolina.


Troy’s showcase coach, Leland Maddux had the following to say about him;  “Troy is a crafty left handed pitcher that is learning the art of command.  He has late life on his fastball in the hitting zone.  He has a projectable body.  His projectable frame gives him a chance to get bigger and stronger. Troy is more than just a baseball player!  He will be a major contributor to our society as a whole.  His ” Heart” touches everyone that meets him.  People love Troy because he’s a wonderful human being.  Baseball is his passion however his unselfish ways is an example to everyone.  Ultimate team player defines Troy.  He is willing to help anyone that wants it.  He will accomplish whatever his heart desires.”


Let’s Go Beyond The Game to learn more about Troy Merchel.





What are your goals for this baseball season?

“Outside of playing the game hard and with the respect that it deserves, I want to continue to do my part in the classroom and the community. I realize that success in those areas will help my coaches maximize my potential in the recruiting process.  I want to continue to earn the respect of my teammates and coaches by playing great baseball and being a good teammate. Lastly, my Dad and I have $50 on me “going yard” this season so that is definitely a goal!”


What is your favorite memory playing baseball?

“My favorite baseball memory would have to be practically growing up at MARA.  I started playing T-Ball there at 4 and did not want to leave the field after my final game as a 12 year old (aged out). I remember spending almost all major days there, even my birthday.   I still love that place, I met so many great people there and had a great baseball experience.”



Take me back to the health obstacle you have overcome?

“I was born with a Ventricular Septal Defect which is basically a hole in the heart.  Mine was pretty big, your heart is about the size of your fist and the hole was about the size of a nickel, so they had to put a patch on it via open heart surgery.  I didn’t display any of the normal symptoms but my parents thought something wasn’t right so they brought me to the doctor seven times in three months and when I went the seventh  time I was in the early stages of heart failure. They had to wait a month for my surgery because the heart muscle was swollen from working harder than it should have to pump the blood.  My parents and I are extremely grateful for the Drs that diagnosed me, the Drs and staff at Levine children’s Hospital and the Sanger Heart Institute.  They were outstanding and I can’t thank them enough for great care I have received.”


“I was cleared to participate in all sports and am considered to have a normal heart.”


“In middle school I had a second heart procedure to correct an SVT (Super Ventricular Tachycardia) which made my heart rate go up over 200 – 250 for brief periods.  This went on for a couple of years though it would come and go pretty quickly.  When it became more frequent we decided to go ahead with the correction due to the risk of passing out and hurting myself when my heart rate would elevate.  The procedure took five hours but I felt much better after and I actually played in my basketball game 2 days later.”


“In the summer leading into my sophomore year I fractured the L5 Vertebrae in my back while pitching at UNC Asheville. I rehabbed and made my return to the mound in the first game of our High School baseball season last year, only to repeat the same injury in my first inning back.  This injury also forced me to prioritize and give up football at Charlotte Catholic, in order to become fully healthy for baseball. After a second bout of physical therapy I really struggled to get my game back to the level that it was at before my injury. I had to repeatedly remind myself about what my coach, Leland Maddox, told me about coming back from setbacks on both the baseball field and in life: It is not about how many times you get knocked down, true character lies in how many times you get back up. That is what is really important and what defines our character.  Coach Maddox has continued give me great coaching and positive reinforcement throughout my recovery.”


Does it affect you today in anyway?

“The biggest affect that these health issues have had on me is that I am confident I can get through any challenge that I am going to face in life.  My back is completely healed and I’ve learned a lot about proper pre and post workout stretching.  My heart defect no longer affects me in any way and I’m considered to have a normal heart.”


Any life lesson to learn from the obstacles you have overcome?

“I’ve certainly learned the hard way that I can overcome any obstacle.  I’ve also learned the importance of being a part of a team and being there for your teammates even when you can’t contribute as much on the field as you would like to.  Even when unable to participate I went to every practice and game to support my teammates and contribute any way I could.”





How well do you perform in the classroom? 

“I do well in the classroom. I have been able to maintain a 3.74 GPA and recently got the scores back from my first SAT. I scored a 1940 three part, and my two part was a 1360. I take honors classes at Charlotte Catholic and serve as Class Representative for my grade on Student Council.  I am also a member of the National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS).”



Are you heavily involved in any community service activity?

“I talk to parents of children who have recently been diagnosed with heart defects and answer any questions that they may have about how my heart defect has affected me during my life. The parents that I have talked to all seem to leave our conversations with peace of mind. I think that a lot of times even just seeing me and hearing that I lead a normal life gives those parents a much more positive outlook and some assurance that their child will be alright.”