From the moment I stepped on a baseball field, I wanted to win. As I went from one level to the next through little league, each all-star team seemed to earn a greater reputation every year. After nearly winning every tournament on our ten-year-old team, we were favored to represent the West in the Little League World Series in our final year as twelve-year-olds. We were knocked out in the first tournament, falling about eighteen wins short of our mark.
By High School, my goal of earning a championship ring was burning inside me. We had gone through two unsuccessful seasons, and in my junior year, we just slid into playoffs with the third seed from our league. As big underdogs, we shut out the 4th ranked team in Southern California, and followed that with a big win over the previous year’s champions. We actually had a shot at playing in Dodger Stadium for the CIF Southern Section Championship, and sure enough, we beat the next three teams without ever looking back. It was the most exhilarating time in my sports career; my dream could have come true with one more win. We lost, by one run, in the most intense and heart-breaking game I had been a part of. But, we accomplished more than we had ever expected.
In my senior year of High School, we won league handily, and were favored to win CIF. We lost in our first game of playoffs, building on a trend that was haunting me. Despite receiving first team All-League honors and attracting various college teams’ interests, I was not interested in playing college baseball. So, I started playing rugby. In four years at Cal Poly, we have made it to four Elite Eights, and have never been ranked lower than 9th in the nation. But my passion grew for sevens rugby, a faster, more exciting style of the game. I play for a team loaded with high class talent from international and our own national team, and had no business making the squad either of the last two years. So, I worked harder than anyone else and made the cut. Finally, I was learning how to truly fight to be one of the best, and loving it.
Last year we were beaten in the last seconds of the national championship, falling short again. So now, I have another opportunity to train and make the team again, and win it all. I am still an underdog, but from my past experiences, it is the underdog who creates the most fear. It is when I am least likely to succeed that the success tastes the sweetest. Being favored to win is not the reward. Earning what I shouldn’t is what counts. Win the wars that cannot be won. Become faster than the fastest. Train beyond anyone’s satisfaction. Enjoy the feeling that comes from giving it everything. This, I believe, is how I become a true champion and wear that ring.