Let me preface this by stating that the inspiration for writing this post came from the fact that I have a number of players I am very close with about to move on to the next level and play college baseball. A number of them I have coached for multiple years (some even for over four). Even some guys I only spent this past year or even just the semester with you truly became a part of this group. I can’t think of a better group of kids (whom I’ve had the privilege of watching grow into young men) to have spent the first years of my coaching career alongside of. With the end of this season came the end of an era.
Speaking directly to you guys now, thank you.
Players like RHP Jackson Wark (St. Albert, AB) St. Louis University (MO), C Matt Quartel (St. Albert, AB) University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (WI), RHP Connor Burns (St. Albert, AB) Garden City Community College (KS), LHP Taran Oulton (Nanton, AB) Hutchinson CC (KS), OF Owen Bessette (Sherwood Park, AB) West Texas JC (TX), 2B Brandon Hill (Edmonton, AB) Okanagan College, RHP Jacob Melville (Spruce Grove, AB) PBA, 2B Mat Brisson (St. Albert, AB) Vancouver Island University and 2B Jake Fischer (Lacombe, AB) Okanagan College.
You have helped me in ways you will never know nor understand. You guys were instrumental in helping me get over my injury. Rather than writing all of you letters with advice I thought I’d give the 18 year old version of myself some words of wisdom and perhaps that will suffice for all of you.
Years ago I went off to Hutchinson CC and then Ouachita Baptist University.
Prospects Baseball Academy
St. Albert, Alta.
An Open Letter to My 18 Year Old Self
Your high school coach is going to leave you with one token of advice, “It’s going to go too fast.” You will only sort of believe him. Well man, I’m here to tell you that he’s far too correct in that statement and it’s going to go way too quickly. The good news is you’re about to have the best few years of your life. Enjoy it. Soak it in and enjoy every little thing. The game itself, competing, the random times just shooting the bull with your teammates, 6 a.m. swimming (well maybe don’t enjoy that), the bus rides, all the highs and all the lows. You will yearn for all of this back when it’s over.
Herein lies my first piece of advice for you, lighten up a bit. Don’t take everything so seriously. It won’t be until your senior year that you really figure this out and it won’t be a coincidence that that’s when you’ll have the most fun and forge the best friendships of all your time in college. Life’s too short to spend it angry about meaningless stuff. When guys bug you about being Canadian just laugh and don’t get so offended. Again, you’ll figure this out in your third year but you’ll wish you had done it earlier.
I’m not going to give you any pitching advice because you’ll do just fine on your own and you need to learn it yourself. We learn more from our failures than our successes anyway and so you need to make mistakes and learn from them. The one thing I will say, however, is don’t be so negative after a failure. Learn from it but move on. When you’re done playing you will be proud of your resilience but you’ll know you could have bounced back quicker. The best coach you’ll ever have is going to give you some advice along those lines before you go home for Christmas break during your sophomore year and you’d be wise to truly listen.
Refer to what Charles Barkley once said, “I know that I’m never as good or as bad as any single performance. I’ve never believed my critics or my worshippers, and I’ve always been able to leave the game at the arena.” For your entire career you are going to live a roller coaster ride of emotions that will be entirely linked to how well or how poorly you pitched your previous outing. Learn from your failures but leave the game at the field and quit being so damn angry and negative when it doesn’t go your way. It’s not okay to live that way and I hate to tell you this, but there will come a time when you would give anything to go out and take the mound even to just get your tits lit again. Life could be worse, man.
On the last day of Christmas break during your sophomore year you are going to decide to max out on bench press. Don’t. In fact, just don’t bench press at all. Ever. If you avoid doing this you’re going to avoid the worst heartbreak imaginable and about four years of indescribable emotional pain. I guess you’ll avoid a lot of physical pain too but that won’t really compare. Just don’t do it.
Pay attention to what the position players do at practice, and listen to what your coaches talk to them about. Watch your coach run third base and pick your teammates brains about stealing bases and hitting and defense. You’ll be really glad you did later on.
Lastly, don’t be so afraid to fail. I sort of touched on it earlier but worse things exist than pitching poorly. The ironic thing is that your fear of failure will be what causes you to fail at times. So get out of your own head and understand it’s you versus you more than anything else. I know you’re terrified to fail because of how much you invest but you need to flip that fear into enjoyment. The competition itself is why you put in all the work you do so just believe in yourself. Enjoy the battle and enjoy the ride!