Tryouts & Cuts - HS Coaches Edition

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Complete Game has partnered with the Colorado Dugout Club, the high school baseball coaches association. As a part of that partnership, CG will be producing a series specifically for high school coaches. We hope these posts serve to unite, encourage, and resource the baseball community in Colorado and across the country.

I’m sure we’re all familiar with the list of failures Abraham Lincoln experienced through the course of his life. Being that today is President’s Day, I thought that this common list of Lincoln’s failures, along with a few successes, would serve as a good reminder:

1831 - Lost his job
1832 - Defeated in run for Illinois State Legislature
1833 - Failed in business
1834 - Elected to Illinois State Legislature (success)
1835 - Sweetheart died
1836 - Had nervous breakdown
1838 - Defeated in run for Illinois House Speaker
1843 - Defeated in run for nomination for U.S. Congress
1846 - Elected to Congress (success)
1848 - Lost re-nomination
1849 - Rejected for land officer position
1854 - Defeated in run for U.S. Senate
1856 - Defeated in run for nomination for Vice President
1858 - Again defeated in run for U.S. Senate
1860 - Elected President (success)

In baseball programs throughout the state of Colorado next week, teams will be conducting tryouts for their program. Most states are a step ahead of those of us in the mountain region, and have already named their teams and have been playing or practicing for some time. No matter what stage of the season coaches and players might be in at the moment, taking a look at how we do tryouts and how we deliver news to those being cut is always of great importance.

In 2 Corinthians 8:20-21, Paul says, “We are traveling together to guard against any criticism for the way we are handling this generous gift. We are careful to be honorable before the Lord, but we also want everyone else to see that we are honorable.” We have been given a generous gift as coaches. This should be taken very seriously and with much care. We, too, must attempt to be honorable before the Lord, and hope that everyone else might see that we are honorable.

Unfortunately, there are kids in many programs who will enter the designated tryout knowing that they have little to no chance to make the team. It’s been obvious from the beginning of the school year or winter workouts that they are on the outside looking in. This is no reason to throw in the towel as a coach. It’s an opportunity to ask for forgiveness and repent from that mistake. Every kid deserves a chance - the kid wearing jeans to tryouts, the kid who played club ball instead of in your program, even the kid who drives you crazy.

We sometimes dismiss kids quickly, like the kid who wears jeans. But, even that kid deserves great care and attention (I had a friend tell me that he had a kid tryout in jeans who later became an All-American in Division I baseball…who knew such things were possible?). Being cut from a team is as life-altering as any of the failures Lincoln faced in his rise to leadership. While Lincoln’s résumé may appear quite glum, he obviously had something to offer this world. So does the kid who is getting cut from your program. Make sure he knows that. Send him on a positive trajectory by meeting with him and sharing the great things you believe he might be able to do some day.

Having coached for as long as I did, I’ve made all of these mistakes and plenty more. Seeking forgiveness from those you’ve wronged is an incredible step towards becoming honorable in the tryout and cut phase of the season. There nothing more powerful than a man who humbles himself as he seeks to know more of Christ. Right wrongs quickly, and hold short accounts, especially with those you will be seeing every day throughout the spring.

May the start of the season be a great blessing to all of you!