Young baseball players all over the country are going through the tryout process right now. Last night, my sophomore son was told that he would probably spend most of his season on the JV and not the Varsity team that he trained all winter for. I remember getting that exact same talk with the head coach of my high school team, during my sophomore year. Ironically, I saw that coach today in Florida. He is a good man that I have kept in contact with over the years, but rarely do I let him forget how much he motivated me back then by his decision to leave me off the team. At the time, it was disappointing, to say the least, and a bit embarrassing to get cut from varsity, but what a great learning experience it was.
I was always a pretty motivated kid, but the fact that I was cut for the first time, really made it obvious that I had to either get to work, or find something else to do if I wanted to play sports beyond high school. Like most kids, I grew up with the desire to play something professionally, whether it be baseball, basketball or football. Baseball seemed like my best chance, since I had the bad habit of throwing the football to the guys in the opposite jersey, and I knew that I was a "hack" in basketball, with a terrible jump shot.
So, I got to work, with a new mission of showing that varsity coach that he had made a mistake, and a clear vision that I wanted to play baseball at a major university. I had a great sophomore year, and had one of the most enjoyable high school baseball seasons that I can remember. I often wonder how I would have progressed in my baseball career, had I been given what I had been praying for, a spot on the varsity team. Instead, I learned how to take a disappointment and use it as a motivator.
With almost 60 guys left in camp right now, I realize that I will have almost 35 of those tough conversations with guys who will not be able to make our club. I hope to remember the feeling of not making that team, many years ago, and the disappointment of a dream being delayed. I realize that I will most likely be part of their motivation to get better and make it to the next level, and I hope that I am around to celebrate with them when they beat the odds, and use their disappointments to help them reach their dream of getting to the Big Leagues. I will tell them, just like I told my son, "get to work and prove 'em wrong."