I haven't been here in years. My last post on this website must have been five years ago or maybe six. I came back because I want to share some of my story (anonymously) in hopes that it will help some current high school players see things more clearly.

I was just like the rest of the folks on this website in high school, especially for my first two years. I was all baseball, all the time. I absolutely loved playing, loved practicing. I took a lot of pride in my athletic career, and I wanted to be successful.

My freshman year of football was incredible. I didn't get too much playing time, but it was clear that I was the guy my coach wanted for the future. I realized that I really liked being part of a team. I didn't care for the coach too much, but I had learned to "deal with it". Freshmen baseball season changed all of that for the worse. I had a horrible relationship with the baseball coach. He was obnoxious and, in my opinion, had a lot of problems. This was the start of all of my problems. I could feel how unwanted I was every day I went to practice/play for either coach, and it was a miserable experience. It was beyond sports (if it was just an issue of playing time, which was an issue I didn't have in a very weak athletic program, I wouldn't be telling this story); my coaches told me I was worthless, that I didn't have friends on the team, etc. Lesson 1: Don't put up with this behavior. I am a quiet person, so I just let them talk to me like this. No matter how tough you think you are, this will negatively effect you. You owe it to the kids who will be playing for that coach in a few years to address the issue.

I kept playing because I loved sports and wanted to play in college. Junior year, however, was a flurry of problems. Most importantly, I had a family member with a life-threatening illness (this person is now fine, thankfully). This changed our lifestyle and made me reevaluate my life. I had to do something. Then I got hurt and couldn't play baseball that spring, which given my coach, didn't bother me as much as it should have. This was the first time when I started to take school somewhat seriously. I had always been bright enough to "get by", but for the first time I was starting to do well academically.

Senior year wasn't much better than junior year. I had gone to some junior days, had some good relationships with college programs that interested me, and the like, but I had made some serious blunders in the recruiting process. This left me without a school to play baseball at. More importantly, the most transformative experience of my life happened senior year: a close friend died in something that could have been prevented by people who cared. Between his passing, the way I had been treated in high school, not playing college baseball, and being at a college that I really didn't want to be at, I really felt lost.

Fast-forward to today. I am a rising senior senior at a Top-10 academic school and have made dean's list every semester. I am playing a Division 1 Sport, but not baseball. My college teammates are the best friends I ever could have asked for, and I wouldn't trade meeting them for the world. I love the sport I play, but not as much as I just love going through the whole experience with my teammates. I didn't know what it meant to be "part of a team" until my college athletic career. I couldn't have a better group of friends. Most importantly, I have found a profession that I am passionate about. I work on it outside of school and sports right now, and I look forward to going to work everyday.

Athletically, I have not been nearly as successful as I had hoped. Maybe my hopes were not realistic, I don't know. That being said, I can promise you that I will leave Senior Day this year with no regrets. My academics have overshadowed my athletic commitment to a degree, yes, I will admit that. I still love my sport, my team, and have given every ounce of effort that I had.

My Thoughts for you:

1) THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO CARE. If I told my 16-19 year old self this, I would not have believed it. I promise you, it is true. The question isn't whether there are good people in the world; it is a matter of finding them. For me, it is my college teammates, a few special professors, and my colleagues. People want to help you realize your dreams and sort things out when you feel lost. I have some "mentor" figures in my life now, and they have helped me more than I could ever express. I'm particularly thinking of one professor in particular who took me under his wing early on and has helped me so much. Even just joking around with the guys on the bus to an away game is a precious moment that helps me recharge. Don't give up on humanity, despite the bad apples you might encounter. This is by far the most important thing I have to tell you.

2) DO WHAT YOU LOVE. Between athletics, academics, and work, I have very, very long days. Of course, I do occasionally wish I had more free time, but when I think about it, there is nothing I would cut from my list of commitments. I have never been to a single party in college, not one. Why? Because Saturday night is for studying. That's the schedule I need to put myself on to succeed at what is important to me. Some people say I'm all work, all the time. They might be right that I need more downtime, but they clearly don't understand what it means to be passionate. I wake up every morning looking forward to what I have on the schedule for that day, and that is the best feeling in the world. Another example of this is my work at a local homeless shelter. I volunteer there every weekend, and I actually have issues sleeping the night before because I am so excited. Some people might think this is strange, but I find this volunteer work rewarding, fun, and extremely worthwhile.

3) TRY SOMETHING NEW. When my colleagues ask me what I value most from my education, I tell them that it's learning a foreign language. I am fluent in this language, and it has changed my life. I have so many friends here and in other countries who I would not be able to communicate with were it not for this language skill. I can also watch great movies, read classic books in this language, experience foreign cultures, etc. It turns out that this language background will help me pursue my passion, but I didn't know that at the time and I don't even care about its professional consequences. For me, learning this language was a quality of life issue, and it has enriched my life more than anything else I have learned. That is why learning a third language is on my to-do list for graduate school.

4) IF A SITUATION IS BAD, BE PROACTIVE AND CHANGE IT. I spent a lot of my high school career infuriated by my situation athletically and socially. This prevented me from succeeding to my fullest capacity in anything, including academics. Unfortunately, I didn't believe my above point number 1 at the time, so I thought I was destined for this sort of life. I wasn't. If you are unhappy with a situation, BE PROACTIVE. Tell someone (a parent, guidance counselor/social worker, teacher, coach... pick the person who makes sense given the situation). Talk it through, evaluate your options, and make an informed decision. Confronting an unfortunate situation is a hard thing to do, maybe the hardest thing you will ever have to do in your life. If you learn that skill now, in high school, you will be forever better for it. After years of being passive, I became proactive and took charge of my situation, and I am grateful that I did. You will be too.

I hope that this has been helpful and will spark some discussion amongst the players, coaches, and parents on this forum. God bless.
Original Post
Wow- that is a powerful post that will hopefully speak to kids that feel they are in similar situations. Thank you for coming back and sharing this with us. You sound like you have a great future because you have worked so hard to make opportunities for yourself.
You shared so much more than your experience. You shared your hard-earned wisdom about life, all packed into a single beautifully written post.

To me, the most important lesson you convey is that every athlete has to figure out what role sports will best play in his/her life. It can certainly add to the fullness and richness, but failure to maintain perspective can also obscure the important areas of a young athlete's maturity and growth that you so eloquently describe.

So impressive. Thank you.

Once again, it's been quite a while since I've posted. HSBBW came to mind recently because of what I had told you all about in my earlier post (see above). Frankly, I think I said just about everything I wanted to say then, and I'm not completely sure if I have anything to add, but I wanted to check in anyway.

 

Since I was last here, my athletic career came to an end. Senior Day was such an incredible experience, and I wouldn't trade it for the world. I left the locker room for the last time fully satisfied that I was moving on to another exciting part of my life, but I will always miss that locker room. More than anything, Senior Day was my way of validating for myself that I was able to fight through challenging circumstances.

 

As for baseball, I do have a confession: for the longest time, I was mad at the sport. I couldn't stand to watch it or even really think about it. I felt that I had wasted my time with it because I ended up playing a different sport in college and all of the "love" I had put into the game felt unrequited. I felt that I didn't deserve the treatment I had received from my high school coaches (and I didn't), and that the game might have made me more upset than it ever made me happy.

 

As Spring training approaches, I am finally getting over that. I never had any right to be mad at the game. I had misplaced my frustration with specific elements of my situation. A psychologically abusive high school baseball environment does not mean that baseball itself is psychologically abusive. The fact that I made tons of mistakes during the recruiting process is my fault because I did not seek out the advice I needed and did not follow it when I got it. The fact that I did not play baseball in college, even though I wanted to so badly, is also my own fault, or better put, a consequence of my own decisions. Playing any Division I sport is an honor, and I now see it that way.

 

I think the single biggest problem with our society is that we feel the need to make everything look like it is perfect and that success is always predestined. It's not. I wish adults who I had encountered in my childhood, particularly very successful adults, had told me more about challenges that they overcame so that when I faced my own, I could have understood that this is normal. 

 

I see this problem in my classmates all the time, and especially in myself. We often think that something is wrong when we hit a brick wall. In fact it's the opposite! The only way that success would be easy would be if we set the bar low, and that would make success lose its value. I fell short on my baseball goals, and on my athletic goals in general.  It's not that baseball was unfair to me; it's that it was impartial. I put in a lot of work by my athletically weak high school's standards, but as I learned in college, that's nothing compared to what other athletes across the country were doing. I deserved my athletic fate, and I'm alright with that. I wish I had done things differently, so I will now with my other life goals.

 

Parents and Coaches, PLEASE go out of your way to share some message similar to this with the kids in your life. I wish I had understood that frustration is an indication of high standards and means that you should work harder. It wasn't entirely my fault; every time I watched a game on TV, all I heard about was how genetically gifted player XYZ is, and never about that time when I'm sure he felt like he had failed, yet something in his life convinced him to redouble his efforts. 

 

Players, don't dismiss this as some phony adult saying what he thinks he should say. I AM 21 YEARS OLD. I AM ESSENTIALLY YOUR AGE. Learn from my mistakes. Be proactive and try and find someone who wants to help you change a bad situation. When you get advice that is given in your best interest (which I really think people can naturally discern, by the way), TAKE IT. If you don't know how to act on the advice you've been given, ask. Tell the productive adults in your life what's frustrating you and come up with a practical plan to change it. That is what I have been doing with the situations I face now, and it has made me so much more happy and successful. 

 

You are welcome to message me if you ever want to hear more about how I've approached things or chat about ideas for you/your son/your player. There are tons of caring, passionate people on this forum. This is a great support group. Use it.

Very powerful message.  I hope other benefit from reading it. Just out of curiousity it would be interesting to read some of your old posts, just to compare what took place over the last several years. However, I understand why you might not want to do that.

 

I once knew a coach that had one unbelievable talent. He was a good coach, but an even better person. Every player he had, good, average or bad, left his program with a great love for the game. Everyone from the stars to the reserves enjoyed their experience playing for him. Just the opposite of your experience, "returner".  There are a lot of really good people out there.  Be on the look out for them. Sooner or later you will find them.

 

Thanks for the message and best of luck.

Wow Returner... your posts are very powerful. I have a couple of guys on my roster that I want to spend several minutes with going over your thoughts and getting them to reflect on the things you are saying and seeing if they have any comments or reactions to your observations... thank you so much for what you've shared and best wishes.

Hi folks,

 

I am back once again, and once again after another long hiatus. I was just talking with a younger person about some of the topics I have discussed in this thread before, so naturally you all came to mind again. Some important follow-up thoughts came up in our discussion, so I thought I would share them with anyone who is interested.

 

First, I was reminded of a thought I had at the beginning of college when I really felt lost. Nothing seemed to be going my way, as I have said earlier, but worse than that, I was convinced that it was "too late" to fix my situation. At 18, it was hard for me to have a good sense of perspective. For my baseball career, yes, it might have been too late, and I certainly thought it was. All I know for sure is that by giving up, I made it too late. That being said, based on how I was able to "fix" my academic situation and my athletic situation in my non-baseball life, who knows, maybe something could have been done. I had projected my frustration with my high school experience on the sport of baseball itself, and that mental block destroyed any chance of fixing my baseball situation. I wish I had handled that differently, but in retrospect I am glad I learned that lesson with baseball as opposed to learning it with my profession, my future marriage/family, etc. The bottom line: it is only too late if you convince yourself it is. To be 100% clear, I am NOT looking back and saying "could have, would have, should have.."; there is a clear difference between having regrets and learning from your mistakes, and I am squarely doing the latter. I am proud to say that I have avoided considering the results of my subsequent missteps in life (there are many and will be many more, I have learned to accept that...) impossible to fix. So I learned something from my baseball experience, and I'm content with that.

 

Second, and I already have said this twice, but I cannot say it enough: IF YOU ARE UNHAPPY WITH A SITUATION, BE PROACTIVE AND CHANGE IT. To be blunt, I should have transferred high schools. In retrospect, it's obvious. The problem was that I assumed the problems were with me, not with the other factors I have discussed. I undoubtedly could have handled the situation better in high school, but at the end of the day, the environment just was not a fit for me. The worst part is that I knew that. I distinctly remember saying things to my family about how the psychologically abusive high school sports environment was taking its toll on me athletically, academically, and emotionally (yes gentlemen, we have emotions...). Between college, work, and graduate school, I have seen the benefits of being in an environment where I am wanted and in which I "fit". I am happy in these environments, and adversity is a lot easier to face when one is a part of a team. Who knows how things would have been different for my teenage self had I transferred high schools, but now I at least know to improve situations that I find to be damaging and to encourage others to do the same. 

 

Third, I am convinced it is crucial find a mentor (or maybe multiple mentors) of some kind who have your best interest at heart. We all need guidance on so many facets of life, and it is so much easier to navigate life with role models and quality advice. 

 

Finally, FOR COACHES, I have never been a coach in my life and probably never will be, so know that I am only offering a former player's perspective, not that of an experienced coach. I completely understand that this might disqualify me from giving advice, so I will only make an observation: your players are developing young people, even the most athletically gifted of whom need to excel in life outside of baseball. I can guarantee you that the best baseball player you will ever coach will still live the majority of his life off of the field, because the HOFers of the world do just that. Again, I have not been a coach, so I do not think I am qualified to give advice on your profession. HOWEVER, what I can say with certainty is that your players will remember you in one way or another. Unfortunately, for me, I remember my high school coaches in terms of "I would NEVER say that to another human being or treat another person like that, because now I know how emotionally damaging that can be". Conversely, however, I remember my college coach for giving me a chance that most people did not think I deserved, so I remember him in terms of how grateful people are when they are just given a chance and when they have someone who believes in them.

 

Again, these are just some assorted thoughts. Do with them what you will, and I hope they are helpful to at least one of you.

 

I have to admit, my disappointment in baseball has completely waned, and I have come to really miss the sport that was once my greatest passion. You might just start to see me around here a bit more now...

I feel lucky that I'm not exhausted, because I skimmed the OP and his subsequent posts with the skepticism I've learned for such things over the years here. 

 

Maybe I'm wrong. I doubt it. My father always said the one thing he wanted to impart to me was a BS detector. It's red lining with this OP.

I know it’s been a few years again, but I’m back. I’m sorry I’ve been so wordy in the past... I’m here with one simple question this time if anyone has a moment.

I’m looking to get involved in baseball again. I’m now about ten years removed from playing organized baseball, and a few years removed from playing college sports. I am not looking to change careers, but I do want to be involved on weeknights, weekends, etc on a volunteer basis.  I know I don’t bring all that much relevant experience, but I miss baseball immensely and really want to be involved again. Anything where I could also help be (I hope) a positive role model to younger players off the field would be a big plus.

 

Any advice would be very much appreciated. I’m sorry if I’ve just taken up space here before, but I’m very grateful in advance for any thoughts anyone has to share.

Thanks so much for all the thoughts here. I really appreciate your help. Answering your questions:

I don’t have kids yet.

Last level I played baseball was high school summer travel league after senior year HS. Highest level sport I played was D1 college sports but another sport.

To all who have mentioned volunteer coaching- that sounds amazing and just what I’d like to do. I can probably throw BP... have never tried hitting fungo.

As for age group, honestly I don’t know- I could find anything from Little League up through college (if they even take volunteers at the college level who didn’t play college baseball) really rewarding I’m sure. Probably more naturally interested in working with the older end of that spectrum if I can... just don’t know if I can be helpful.

Thanks so much again. I really appreciate everyone’s ideas.

returner posted:

I know it’s been a few years again, but I’m back. I’m sorry I’ve been so wordy in the past... I’m here with one simple question this time if anyone has a moment.

I’m looking to get involved in baseball again. I’m now about ten years removed from playing organized baseball, and a few years removed from playing college sports. I am not looking to change careers, but I do want to be involved on weeknights, weekends, etc on a volunteer basis.  I know I don’t bring all that much relevant experience, but I miss baseball immensely and really want to be involved again. Anything where I could also help be (I hope) a positive role model to younger players off the field would be a big plus.

 

Any advice would be very much appreciated. I’m sorry if I’ve just taken up space here before, but I’m very grateful in advance for any thoughts anyone has to share.

I went back and read some of your story.  I think there are lots of avenues you can take.  One of the best would be to get involved as an assistant coach at the HS level.  You would have to sort of get a feel for the HC and make sure his philosophy is one that will allow you to contribute both as a baseball coach and, more importantly, as a role model to younger kids.  I think your negative experience at this age level will motivate you here even more so than with much younger kids.  Also, you will be with them more often and truly have an opportunity to be that role model.  HS programs can almost always use another young guy that can work a fungo and throw BP.  If you go the route of Babe Ruth or younger, you are only with them a few times a week and not really getting to know them enough to be a real influencer.  

Depending on the program, you may also be able to be a HC of JV or Freshman ball.  Then, you could really set the stage in regards to setting the example and mentoring, instead of working around the HC's schedule and directives.

As a recent HS HC, I was blessed to have an assistant coach in recent years that was an older guy who was a baseball guy but, more so, wanted to mentor.  He would come early every day and set up practice and talk with the boys... sometimes individually, sometimes collectively.  Just inspiring them to excel at humanity.  He was able to weave his lessons thru baseball stories.  He made an impact.  

BTW, what was the college sport you ended up playing?

What CABBAGEDAD said really resonates: I think high school might fit my interests really well, particularly given my experiences. I am going to look into local baseball programs and see what might make sense. I have a bit of concern about time commitment and how it will fit with my job, but I definitely want to see what I can work out.  I really wouldn't want to make a commitment I can't fully follow through on as I would want.

I played football in college.

 

Dude, get involved locally in whatever level of baseball you want to contribute in and don’t look back. You can only provide positive experience for kids and I suspect you’ll benefit as well. Seems like you had baseball taken away from you due to circumstances.

I love grinders and folks who give back...oh yeah, and underdogs too.

Returner, when I became a HC I had a friend who was a baseball fanatic but had not played.  Still, he was smart and had the ability to learn quickly.  He asked if he could keep the book.  Heck yes.  However, I told him I needed more.  I knew he really wanted to be a coach.  So, I took him to the bullpen and taught him what I needed for him to do.  I was constantly running between the bullpen area, hitting cages and field.  It felt so good knowing that I had an adult watching my pitchers.  Over time, he became really accomplished at this.  He read books, watched video, ...  You can do the same because believe me, there is a HS program out there that is looking for someone to help.  

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