"I do not think that there is any other quality so essential to success of any kind as the quality of perseverance."
- John D. Rockefeller
Those who know me and who have been through our program know that I do not believe my job ends in the cage or on the field after the lesson or camp has concluded. I believe there is an inherent responsibility with this job to help students achieve the goals that they work so hard for. So, I routinely use the relationships we have formed with college coaches throughout the country and the contacts I have at the professional ranks to help give those who have demonstrated genuinely high work ethic a chance to realize those dreams.
A couple years ago, one of our longest tenured students was going through their junior year of HS, and was right in the middle of their college search. Yet, despite their incredible athletic talent and well-above average academic marks, they continued to hit road block after road block in their search for the right fit.
Now this is honestly one of the best all around catchers we've ever trained in the history of our program. Certainly one of the best in the country. I can't tell you how many times we thought we'd found a school for this player and for one reason or another the coach decided to pass on them. It was beyond baffling to say the least.
Some coaches deemed this student too small, not sure if they could stand up to the incredibly intense NCAA Division 1 college schedule behind the plate. Some coaches weren't sure if this player's bat would suffice at that level. Some coaches weren't sold on this catcher's arm despite terrific pop-times. For one unjustified reason or another, this catcher just couldn't catch a break.
And then it happened, a school with the academic program this student was looking for stepped up to the table with a college roster spot in hand. However, it was as a utility player who could catch, not as a catcher who had the versatility to play other positions.
Regardless, it was a D1 school in a part of the country where this catcher wanted to be, with the academic program that they were looking for. It was a no-brainer. Or so I thought. I got a call that night from this student asking if it was OK that they wouldn't be catching much at this school. This student was worried that they would be disappointing me, the memory of my father and the program they've ben apart of for most of their adolescent lives by not catching in college. I had to refrain from laughing because of the seriousness of the moment, but I responded by asking them "what was the purpose for the work they had put in behind the plate all these years?" They answered "to play college ball." So I asked "So what you're saying is that you accomplished what you set out to?" I got a reluctant yes.
I told this catcher that they were going to catch in college. I had no doubt in my mind. They were too good. Plain and simple. All it would take is for an opportunity to prove it.
Well, this Fall I got a call from this student, letting me know that they just had their gear shipped to school because the stud freshman catcher, one of the team's prized recruits, just hurt their knee and the coach needed someone to pick up the slack catching bullpens. This catcher got their shot and took full advantage. Soon, the pitchers were asking to throw to them and they were given the opportunity to show just how good they were.
And because they never took no for an answer. Because they trusted in the work they had put in for the last decade and took advantage of the opportunity they were given, this catcher just got to start their very first NCAA D1 game against a school who passed them up while they were in HS.
And when the first runner of the game took off for second base? Well, let's just say that the opposing coach had to smile, shake their head and watch as the runner headed back to their dugout.
Catchers, you never know when you will get your chance. Maybe there's a senior ahead of you. Maybe the coach doesn't see the work you've put in throughout the winter. Maybe you're not being given the chances you believe that you've earned through all the blood, sweat and tears. Who's to say you won't get your shot? Who's to say something won't change in an instant? Ask yourself, are you going to be ready when it does?
Remember this....the only person who can truly tell you that you can't or won't do something is yourself. Nobody else. No matter what situation you're in, put in the work every day and at some point an opportunity, however small, will present itself and it's all that work that will keep you ready to take advantage of it.
Thanks for reading this month's Tip of the Month!