This I Believe

Matthew - Montgomery, Texas
Entered on March 10, 2009
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: sports
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The green grass, the red dirt, the yelling of parents both proud and frustrated…

I was four when I started playing baseball. At the time, it was just running around with friends. We didn’t really understand what we were doing. It was mostly the coaches telling us where to go and what to do.

I’ve been playing now for eleven years. I think back to all the teams and coaches I’ve had, and what they taught me. There were coaches that didn’t really do anything, some that made me feel like dirt, and a few special ones that actually taught me something. Not just baseball either. My favorite coach made clear to us that he was not teaching baseball here, he was teaching life. Baseball was just a nice addition. I think I’ll remember his lessons as long as I live.

He taught us “We play like we practice, and we practice like we play.” He taught us the value of teamwork. This point was particularly clear when he made us take laps if one player botched a play at practice. But he would run along beside us and yell “We will not miss plays. We practice well, because perfect practice makes perfect. We are a wall. We play like we practice, we practice like we play. When one player makes a mistake, the whole team suffers.” When we finished running, he would make us repeat everything he had yelled to us. Or maybe at us. There were two lessons he drilled us in the most. The first one was “Our positive coaching can’t out do your negative thinking.” He told us about various people who trained themselves to forget the last play, and focus on the next one.

The second, and what might have stuck the most was, “Champions never drag their chins.” When we lost, he picked us up and told us to look forward. When one of us missed a play, he would pick us up and tell us to look forward.

So, with that in mind, this is what I believe. I believe that positive thinking outweighs poor performance. If you want it bad enough, you can get it. In America, the only things you are guaranteed are opportunities. What you do with those, or more importantly, what you do afterwards is up to you. If you go through life dragging your chin only looking at the negative, the missed opportunities, your life will be negative. But, if you focus on the positive things, your life will be positive. A well-known adage is “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” I firmly believe this.

Would you think that baseball could teach all this? I certainly didn’t see it coming. Baseball is at the heart of America, and I couldn’t be more proud of it. My coach is one of the best men I ever met. I hope you think so too. So, I ask you this. Has baseball been very, very good to me?