Teach D Game
        It's more than baseball, it's lessons for life
Current "TFTD"

 “THIS IS”

 The basis of this thought is a story told by Sergio Gutierrez, youth coach, that my son has the privilege to play for.

 

He had a player in Jr high that was a fantastic young ballplayer.  Besides the school team she also competed on a club team.  He told all of the players that there was a commitment required for this team.  The players said they understood and this one player discussed it with her club coach.  The club coach indicated “what is the problem, THIS ISN’T High School ball”. 

 

So the player played in a few games but when a conflict arose between the school team and the club team, she chose the club team.  The Coach had discussed the rules and informed the player that he had no choice but to remove her from the team.  She responded, no big deal, THIS ISN’T High School ball. 

 

A few years later this coach moved on to the local high school as the varsity coach. This player when they were a freshman was good enough to make the varsity squad.  So as the player came out for the team she felt confident as the coach already knew her.  She did make the team but again they had the discussion about commitment and what it meant to the team.  She was still playing on an outside travel team but seemed genuinely concerned with abiding by the rules.  The coach was tough on her and as her career progressed there were many times that she didn’t understand the process.  Many times she sat there and thought, “Why is he this tough, why do we have to do this, THIS ISN”T college ball. 

 

As luck would have it, this player was a fantastic student as well as athlete.  She was accepted to Stanford but was not quite at that level as an athlete.  She decided to attend anyway, but found out that if she took a couple of classes at a local junior college she could play basketball for them.  So she did just that and played basketball for this junior college while attending Stanford.  During her playing career, the coach was tough on his players just as this other coach had been in the past.  Many of the players would whine and complain, “why is he so hard on us and have such high expectations, THIS ISN’T Division I ball?”. She just laughed thinking back at her own earlier career and having the same thoughts.

 

She also was friends with some of the players on the Stanford basketball team.  She would listen to them and often heard similar complaints, “why is the coach doing this or that, doesn’t he understand THIS ISN”T the pro’s?”. 

 

This student athlete eventually graduated and with much success started her own business.  She ran into her old youth coach and his family.   They went to dinner together and at this dinner, she turned to her youth coach and thanked him for pushing her so hard during those younger years.  She had grown up and now used those life lessons to help run her own business and was incredibly successful.  She turned to him and said, “You know, THIS ISN”T just about sports, but THIS IS about life.” She knew that the lessons learned during her athletic career had been one of the cornerstones that gave her the tools to be successful in life.

 

As athletes moving through the levels of what will be your “career”, you are continually confronted with these obstacles.  Every day you will have those around you and maybe yourself that will be thinking, THIS ISN’T something.  This frame of mind will be detrimental to your growth as an athlete as well as your growth as an individual.  If you choose to focus on the negative side of the equation, it makes it incredibly difficult to move

 

forward in a positive manner.  You can focus on the fact of, THIS ISN’T a big game or a good opponent,  THIS ISN’T my senior year, THIS ISN’T a game where the scouts are watching, THIS ISN’T an important play or at bat. THIS ISN’T Life or Death. 

 

You may be lucky enough to go through the recruiting process.  As you talk to coaches will you fall prey to THIS ISN’T a Division I school, THIS ISN’T a school that is a big name, THIS ISN’T a coach I have heard of, THIS ISN’T where my parents want me to go.

 

Your career may progress and you land at the college of your choice.  Suddenly you are thrust into a whole new world of situations.  THIS ISN’T my job to rake the field or carry the equipment.  THIS ISN’T what I expected, to be sitting the bench or not playing much.  THIS ISN’T the position that I have played my whole life.  THIS ISN’T the same coach who came to my living room and told me how special I was and how he wanted me to be a key part of his program.  THIS ISN’T what I thought college classes were going to be like or that I have to go to them at all.  THIS ISN’T what I expected it to be like being away from home for the first time.  THIS ISN’T what I have felt before when my parents came up to me after a bad game and told me I was still the best and better than little Johnny who the coach loves or whose parents are on the booster club.

 

For a few lucky ones, you will pass through this gauntlet and get drafted to play professional sports.  Now you have finally made it, you think THIS IS what I have wanted all my life.  Suddenly, that same old demon seems to raise his head again.  THIS ISN’T what I wanted to be in Rookie ball.  I’m better than that, look I was a big time college or high school player.  THIS ISN’T what I expected with my teammates not caring about me because I might be standing between them and the next level.  THIS ISN’T what I expected that if I am tired or hurt the coaches won’t care as they’ll just throw in that other young phenom and give him his chance.  THIS ISN’T what I expected to be sitting on a crappy bus for 5 hours and then have to jump out and play a game.  THIS ISN’T what I thought it would be like to play every day, gee I’m tired.  THIS ISN’T what I thought I was going to get paid, how am I supposed to eat?  THIS ISN’T what I expected that after 3 years in pro ball I’m still sitting in A ball or maybe AA.  THIS ISN’T what I thought would happen after all these years of being one of the best, that I would wake up one day and find out I’d been released and now no one wanted me.

 

So maybe you make it, you get to the show and you are now a major league player.  The shiny new equipment every day, the perfectly manicured ballfield, the BIG PAYCHECK.  Well here comes your old friend.  THIS ISN’T what I wanted for every fan to want my autograph and bug me so I can’t even have a night out on my own.  THIS ISN’T what I expected that the fans and Press expect me to get a hit every time, or strike out every batter, or make every play perfectly.  THIS ISN’T what I expected that just because I make a lot of money everyone wants a piece of it.  THIS ISN’T what I expected that I would be expected to perform at my best everyday just because I am getting paid a lot of money.  THIS ISN’T the life I wanted.

 

How will you handle this?  THIS ISN’T any way to go through life.  THIS IS an opportunity to take these lessons, thrust before you in sports and use them to positively move through life.  One of the few things in life that you can ALWAYS control is how you react to situations.  You need to find a way to live life whether it be on the sports field, your personal life, your working life or wherever and make the moments about  THIS IS.

 

THIS IS just a game.

 

THIS IS an opportunity to do what I have always dreamed of doing.

 

THIS IS a chance to still play when many others have already been cut from the sport, injured or just lost interest along the way.

 

 

THIS IS a chance to move to the collegiate level and get to play sports while GETTING AN EDUCATION.

 

THIS IS an opportunity to learn how to deal with other people in a positive fashion, people I may not personally like, but still have to deal with.

 

THIS IS about working hard regardless of the apparent outcome for in many endeavors it is the journey that is the reward not the destination.

 

THIS IS a chance to earn a living doing a job that pays me incredibly well, far more than many of those in the stands that paid a lot of their hard earned money to come see me play for a couple of hours.

 

THIS IS a chance to have some young kid look up to me and dream that someday that could be them.

 

THIS IS my opportunity to do the very best I possibly can and that alone will be my reward.

 

THIS IS will always be your opportunity in life to look at things in a positive manner.  In looking through this perspective, your chances of succeeding are far greater than focusing on the negative.  Additionally, people always would prefer to be around a positive person. 

 

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.
Theodore Roosevelt

 

In the end, how you handle situations, how you treat people, will determine who you are and what you stand for.  In the end, THIS IS YOUR LIFE, THIS IS YOUR LEGACY, THIS IS YOUR OPPORTUNITY to be the very best you can be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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