I have been involved with baseball since I was ten years old and I can vividly recall what piqued my interest into playing America’s past time. The famed 2000 World Series; The New York Yankees vs the New York Mets, aka the Subway Series. I played just about every position on the diamond and until finally settling on playing catcher. I continued to play throughout high school and contemplated about playing in college. I decided not to play in college due to time commitments for the student athlete. After my undergraduate studies and up until my first year in PT school, I coached baseball at the high school level. My former baseball coach reached out to me one summer and gave me an opportunity to be an assistant coach for the 17U and one of the head coaches of the 15U American Legion Summer Teams. More recently during the 2012-2013 school year, the year between undergraduate and PT school, I was one of the assistant coaches for my high school team where I was able to help coach the Varsity team to the State Sectional Finals as a 14 seed. Baseball has been a major part of my life and it has taught me a few life lessons.
Always hustle, never give up
This was a common phrase echoed by many coaches during my years playing baseball. If you didn’t hustle, you didn’t hear the end of it. Heck, when I started coaching baseball I always instilled this into my players. In baseball and in life, anything can happen. Hit a weak grounder or a lazy fly ball, always hustle; you never know what will happen!
Practice makes permanent
I wasn’t the best player on the field. I didn’t have natural, God given talent like some of my friends had. I had to work my butt off day in and day out to earn myself playing time. Don’t practice until you get it right, practice until you can’t get it wrong.
Game of failure
Baseball is one of those few games where succeeding 3/10 times is considered being good. That’s 30% of the time; crazy! You aren’t going to succeed 100% of the time in baseball and in life. So, the sooner you can come to grips with understanding that concept, the sooner you can learn from your failures and improve upon yourself instead of putting yourself into a rut and dwell on “what if” moments.
The best players don’t necessarily make the best coaches
Just because you were a stud on the diamond, doesn’t necessarily make you the most efficient in coaching and teaching players. You may have been blessed with talent and everything came naturally, but unfortunately, not everyone is that way. If you don’t know what the grind was like to struggle on working on certain skills, it may be hard to relate to and to coach/cue an athlete.
Catchers are the field generals on the baseball diamond. They are one of the few people who can see the whole field as the play unfolds. Being a catcher isn’t the flashiest of positions. It’s a position, in my humble opinion, that’s overlooked and under-appreciated. Almost every kid growing up wants to be a stud pitcher, a corner position player that hits dingers or a middle infielder with the softest/quickest hands. A well balanced catcher has to be a master of their craft; students of the game. They have to manage pitchers and their pitches, know what the batters did the last at-bat, direct infielders on cut-offs, block pitches in the dirt, throw out would-be base runners and oh yeah, also hit the ball. They have a laundry list of responsibilities. When you have a sub-par catcher who doesn’t do the job of what an above average or even average catcher does, you’ll quickly notice the difference and appreciate what a solid catcher can do for your team. Catchers are quiet professionals. They just get the job done.
You shape people’s lives
When I first got into coaching as a freshman in college coaching incoming freshman in high school, I didn’t realize what an impact I would have on their lives. I remember my young athletes ask me what I was going to school for. I would reply, “physical therapy.” Surprisingly, I would get “that’s what I want to do too. Coach, any advice on how to do that?” Fast forward four years where those once wide-eyed incoming freshman are now graduating high school and going into college; boy does time fly! I’ve had my former baseball coach’s son and one of my players come to my Alma Mater because of the positive influence I’ve had in coaching them in baseball. You never know what your actions can do for the young kids in your life so lead by a positive example.