No matter the sport, the length of experience, or the championships won, all athletes share priceless experiences.
For me, it began the summer of my 8th grade year. Being involved in summer softball meant that I spent every weekend at the dusty ballpark. I lived my dream as a teenager enjoying every weekend with my friends and dirtied up my clothes in the process. Only one problem stood in my way: my coach had anger management problems.
I’ve always believed that the easiest way out involves blaming the coach, and when the coach yells all the time, this becomes a lot easier to do. Specifically, I remember playing third base. After just making the game-losing bad throw, you can imagine how I felt.
I believe the worst feeling is disappointing someone you care about. Take that feeling and multiply it by ten for all of my teammates. Oh yeah, and one for my coach too; he threw a bat in the dug out and then screamed in my face, “It was a routine grounder! What the HECK do YOU think YOU’RE DOING?”
I believe everyone can learn from their mistakes. However, the shame eating at my insides at this moment caused optimism to be the furthest from my mind. I started playing with ‘could of, would of, and should of’ moments—I beat myself up mentally for the disappointment I caused.
Later in the season, my team made it to the semifinals. I was playing third base yet again. This time, the best team in our area was up to bat. The runner on second base stole third base, and I felt responsible. As you can imagine, my coach yelled from the dugout, because he couldn’t believe that the winning run stood 60 feet away with one out. Learning from earlier in the season, my mental strength allowed me to disregard my coach’s comment, and I became focused for the next play. Turns out, the batter hit a line shot hard enough to vibrate my hand when I caught it in my glove. I then tagged the runner out at third base for a double play! If I would’ve let the coach’s anger control my thoughts, we would’ve lost that game.
How does this relate to life? How will my athletic experiences benefit me in the future? About a year ago the ACT tried to take over my life. While all my classmates cracked under pressure, the mental toughness my coach built in me made me confident.
All my classmates stressed out, and sweated the days away until the test. In contrast, I remained stress free. With the focus I have learned on the diamond, I am able to tackle any stressful challenges I will be faced with. While everyone else will be unfamiliar with the pressure, I’d like to thank my raging coach for the mental toughness he built in me.
I believe that athletes have an advantage in life.