I'll say from the onset that I'm not looking for a magic bullet or the golden solution associated with this post - more of a share, but feedback, as always, from the vast network of folks on this site is always welcome.
Also a note of caution. I'm the dad, so know my post will automatically come with bias and my son being the best player in the country (not really...but you know what I mean).
I would say in general our son has always found challenges with fitting his body size. He was nearly 6-6 when he was 14 and at one point grew 6 inches in 6 months. He was placed as a PO in his freshman year and although it was a known spot, we thought it came a year early. He has been blessed to play with some great club teams and this past summer his team was literally a half a step from making the final 32 teams in the Ft. Myers PerfectGame tourney (the team that edged them out ended up winning second place). Through his many years of playing, he has faced more mental challenges (mainly confidence) than physical, but the physical challenges have been real as well - mainly with learning his body shape and capabilities. Bottom line, I firmly believe he's a strong JuCo/D2/D3 level player and may fit some D1 level programs.
Last bit of background is his dual enrollment in college plus high school for his Junior and Senior years of high school. That plus some AP courses in high school should put him around 42-44 college credit hours upon high school graduation. The plus is he carries a 3.4-3.6 GPA (unweighted). So, for sure proud mom and dad for his academic efforts. His academic desires are engineering so that begins to narrow the field of available four year schools should he take that route.
The challenge is what likely fits for him on the athletic front is the JuCo level (he needs more reps and playing time) but during a showcase a few months ago a JuCo coach actually told him to skip JuCo academically since he only needs about 16 hours and the coaches will want him for 2 years. All understandable for our son and for us as parents.
Here is our super proud moment - he has decided to prioritize academics over athletics and should the baseball opportunity exist, he will certainly pursue - but since he is looking at D1 Texas and Mississippi schools, he understands that is a pretty narrow funnel to work through in the coming months since those coaches are essentially finished looking at 2023 graduates. But, if he gets a look for "project ability" he'll continue his baseball career.
While I have read many of threads on this forum, I now am experiencing what I have read many of times. The potential off-ramp away from baseball as the funnel begins to narrow quickly at the college selection stage. As I've reflected the last few weeks based on his current path, I would offer the following:
- Enjoy the ride while it lasts. I feel like just yesterday we were buying our first bat and him trying to figure out what he wanted to do int he sport and then the next thing you know, we're touring the southeast in Atlanta and Ft. Myers this summer playing against some of the greatest ball clubs around the country. Time evaporates quickly.
- Honor his decision, regardless of my pride and desire. The only sport I follow and consume is baseball. I love the park atmosphere, the journey of the players, the culture of the sport, heck - my "fidget spinner" at my work desk is a baseball. Regardless, of my son's decision(s) to continue to play, that will never change. And he and I will ALWAYS have a sport we can go watch together.
- Give back. Watching my son umpire youth baseball has resonated with me as a way to give back to those 7-14 year old kids just getting a taste of the sport and to encourage and develop the desire in them to play.
Thanks for reading.