My early Valor baseball years were difficult for me, I played on the C Team both my freshman and sophomore years. It was tough because baseball meant everything to me, and my identity was tied to being a baseball player. I always wanted to be the stud varsity athlete that got all of the attention. My sophomore year, I knew for sure that I was going to make JV and start in the outfield, but God had a different plan for me.
In my selfish ways, I chose to ask God why he held me back, I was in a world of hurt. All of my friends were on JV while I was on the C Team. I complained and didn’t even want to show up to practice. The day the teams were made, I told Coach Whitfield, the C Team coach, “Maybe baseball isn’t my sport anymore.” I remember these exact words because I was about to give up on baseball, the one thing that gave me happiness. My grades weren’t great, I wasn’t the most popular kid, and I struggled with relationships with my friends and family.
After sophomore year, I promised myself that I would work my butt off to prove that I was a good baseball player. It was the only chance I had left to find that happiness again, because I don’t know what I would have turned to if I didn’t. As I began working hard in the weight room and on our performance runs, and as I began taking swings at home, I noticed improvement that I had never seen before. This brought me pure joy as I knew I was getting better and stronger. Before I knew it, it was junior-year tryouts and I was anxious to show the coaches the work that I had put in. At the end of the week, I was so nervous to walk into the room for team placement fearing I’d been cut, or even placed on JV. I walked into the Varsity classroom and I felt a rush of joy and happiness that I hadn’t felt in a long while. Making the Varsity team was awesome, but adversity crept up on me again. I didn’t play well in the first few games after pitching and hitting in all of them, and, before I knew it, I was sitting the bench and again asking God why he brought me this happiness only to have it taken so quickly.
Even though there were some good memories junior year, I took the same path as my sophomore year and worked even harder, because I knew that there might be a spot in the outfield for me. I ran and lifted more than I ever had, holding nothing back so that I wouldn’t be just a part of the team, but a contributor who would help the team more than ever. I tried to push everyone around me to the best of their abilities. I began hitting by myself and with coaches, and working out with another strength coach. The hard work had been paying off because I jumped up in speed, ball exit speed, and throwing measurements. Being able to see the growth that I had made gave me joy in itself. I finally let go and asked God to let me know His plan so that I could follow it.
I knew that this year was going to be special with the bonds that have been made, and how we all do our own parts. I found myself on Varsity again, but still anxious to see if I had the starting spot. Coach Wahl had a meeting a few days before our scrimmages talking about roles. Coach Wahl was filling out the positions on the whiteboard and I saw that I was going to start in centerfield. I was happy, not only by being named a starter, but happy to be surrounded by the teammates and coaches that I have been around for the last four years.
My advice to younger players is find out what motivates you to be great. If you find yourself lost and not knowing where to go, ask God to know His plan for you.
Jeremiah 29:11-14 says this: “For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
God knows what happens every second of your life, have open eyes and open ears to watch and listen to his plan.
John 13:7 says “Jesus replied, ‘you do not realize what I am doing now, but later you will understand.’”
I didn’t realize what God was doing in my life, but I understand now that I had to grow and become more mature in many ways. Now, I look to love and give glory to my teammates, I no longer have selfish ambitions, but want the people around me to be the best they can be. I can’t thank God enough for my years at Valor, because I have learned so much and have grown physically, mentally and spiritually. The one takeaway that I want you to take from my baseball story is to never give up on your dreams, just work harder to make them become a reality. With this mindset, you will see growth in every aspect of your life.