Whatâs the best and the worst thing about preparing for the future? Iâd say not knowing what to prepare for; itâs the excitement of the unknown mixed with the apprehension of uncertainty.
Thatâs where youâll find me, a 22 year-old senior shortstop at Elon University: in the middle (no pun intended) and âon the bubbleâ. And thatâs where I find myself, in between a dream of baseball and the reality of the working world-between childhood and manhood. Here I am, three weeks from my last, âfirst gameâ of the college season. I find myself sending my resumeâ to employers and filling out pro scout questionnaires in the same day.
My life has become a âChoose your own adventureâ novel, only Iâm not choosing. It will either be a pro club choosing me or a Human Resources manager at some business firm. I guess it doesnât sound quite so bad when I say it like that, and itâs not. But thereâs definitely significant inner turmoil. Iâm sitting in an interview for a marketing position (for after I graduate) in Charlotte wondering, âIf he offers me this job, can I take it?â And I canât, not in good conscience. If I did, I would feel like I was quitting on my dream-a dream thatâs brought me through four great years of college ball and almost fifteen years of youth baseball before that. But Iâve worked almost as hard to be prepared for my first job as I have to be prepared for baseball at the next level. Iâve made all the grades, aced all the tests, typed all the papers, volunteered, interviewedâ¦Iâve done all the extras. But what about all those hours Iâve hit off the tee, took groundballs, ran my butt off, lifted weights, iced my arm or my legs or agonized over a slump? Which one was preparing me for the rest of my life? The best part is, both of them were!
I learned how to differentiate a product by market analysis; and I learned it in the classroom. But I also learned how to persevere by breaking out of a week-and-a-half-long slump; I learned that on the baseball diamond. I learned about work in books and classes, but I learned how to work in the batting cage and on the infield dirt.
Thatâs what makes baseball players different from all other athletes. Baseball is not an occupation, itâs not a job, nor is it a scholarship or a paycheck. Baseball is a lifestyle and it is part of who we are. We couldnât get away from it even if we wanted to-we love it too much. Thereâs something about the symmetry, the cause and effect, and the perfection of the game that draws us to it. Thereâs something captivating about an event demanding so much physical ability yet even more mental acuity.
Thatâs why I canât take a job that starts this summer; thatâs why guys spend their life savings driving across the country to try-out; and thatâs what sends us to Asheboro, Mankato, Chatham, Edenton, Columbus and Wareham to play summer ball in small-town America only days after a 56+ game college season has ended.
And thatâs what brought me to this conclusion: Iâm not going to worry about it.
Iâm going to enjoy my last season with the best friends Iâll ever have. Iâm going to enjoy four-hour intra-squads and base-running cycles. And Iâm going to stand on the field when the last out of my last collegiate game is made and Iâm going to say, âI left it all out here on this field!â And if that doesnât set my phone to ringing on draft day, then Iâll have to be ok with that. But Iâll sit by the phone on June 7th and wait, one way or anotherâ¦I will be waiting for the rest of my life to start..