Not Making the Team

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."

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  • Responsibility

    Mike, I have been a manager of young men for years. My challenge to them is to live up to the potential they have. They have to be responsible for their own failures as well as their successes. Too many of them want to blame others for their lack of success. I make sure that they know that I see their ability but it is their responsibility to actually perform to that level. Once they do that success will be earned and owned by them.
  • thanks

    Thanks, Mike, for sharing your ideas with us. You were my favorite player when you played and I'm proud you're now our manager, because you stand up for the fact that character counts. I'm sure you'll find the right way to tell those 35 young guys the bad news in such a way that they'll be better for it. I teach, too, and those are the teachable moments. Can't wait for the season to start! Go Cards!
  • Well Said!!!

    Going through this now with my freshman son So glad I saw this and will for sure have him read this....I've always told him that there are a lot of Upsets in sports for a reason..would much rather be the underdog in any situation...1st seeds, state rankings and undefeated seasons ... I hate..... Underdogs work much harder and are out to prove something getting cut could be just what some good athletes need to become great!!
  • Thx

    That was very motivational ad even tho I made the team u just taught me tht u should always work hard and it will pay off, and that I should do my best to work hard and show coach I deserve the spot
  • Thx

    That motivated me just reading and I appreciate it! Even though I made the team I will work as hard as I can to prove coach he made a good decision thanks mr matheny! Tell blaise I say hi
  • blog

    Mike I wish my kids could have read this blog when they were in high school. They respect you so much as adults now.
  • Hard decisions

    It would be so hard to take decisions like that. I pray God's help be with you and with your son too, only with His wisdom and support we get success.
  • Words

    This is always a tough challenge for any leader. Letting down a person at work or at home is not the easiest task to handle. But words of motivation and encouragement would be the key not to break the spirit. Life is always about risks; if you win you will be happy but if you lose you will be wiser. As Alexander Graham Bell said: "When one door closes another door opens; but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us." I have been watching the spring training games and I see how great you are standing up for the team not because you want to win but fighting for what is fair. I wish you and the Cardinals all the best!