It’s Too Easy to Quit

“The difference in winning and losing is most often…not quitting.”

– Walt Disney

There is a great story in Napoleon Hill’s “Think and Grow Rich”.  It’s about a man who gave up his quest for gold during the California Gold Rush many years ago.

The man spent many months prospecting for gold, believing that one day he would strike gold, just like many others during that time.  Every day he went out to the hills with basic tools and mined for gold.  He would find some gold; but not the fortune that he was hoping to find.

After several months of mining the man decided to quit.  He no longer believed that he was going to find the bounty he sought.  Another prospector, hearing that the man was quitting, offered to buy all of his tools.  The man agreed.

The second prospector approached mining a bit differently than the first man.  He hired a surveyor, a geologist and an engineer to begin working on the land that the first man had been mining.

The men studied the mine and discovered that the first man had been three feet from the gold he was seeking.  That’s right…3 FEET!  The original prospector simply gave up too soon.  When he heard of what the men found, the prospector could only wonder what could have been if he had just continued to push forward.

When he heard about the discovery, the man could do nothing but wonder what might have been.

Like the original prospector, I feel many of our youth are quitting baseball before they have a chance to see if they could excel at the game.  Here is a scenario that is likely to play out:

A child is excited about the upcoming season.  They show up to the first practice and enjoy meeting their teammates and their coaches.  Unfortunately, the child struggles with the game.  The child struggles to field, catch pop ups, and can’t get the ball to go where they want to throw it.  At the plate, they start out confident that they will get a hit.  But, they struggle to make contact.  And when they do, the ball never leaves the infield.  The child struggles while watching others do well.

The young child is determined to make it work; and they show up to the field for each and every practice and game.  However, as the season wears on, their frustration builds.  And by the end of the season, the enthusiasm they had on opening day is now a distant memory.

The child, after the last game, informs mom and dad that they no longer want to play baseball.  Mom and Dad let it go, knowing that it’s probably just the frustration at the moment and feel it will pass.  When it comes time to sign up for the next season, the child insists they do not want to play.  The struggles experienced a few months back are still on their mind.

Years ago, quitting may not have been so easy.  Why?  Because there weren’t many options for kids.  Baseball was played in the Spring.  Football or Soccer in the Fall.  And Basketball in the Winter.  Sure there were other seasonal sports like Lacrosse, Wrestling, Swimming, etc; but the days of year-round sports were not yet upon us.  Today?  Well, it’s plenty different.  Every sport seems to be year-round.  Struggling in Baseball?  No problem, you can play soccer year-round.  Parents don’t have to let their kids suffer in a sport in which they struggle because there are PLENTY of other sports their child can play at the same time.  So, it’s become REAL EASY to let our kids quit.  No parent wants to see their child suffer through failure.  Especially since there are so many options for their child that can keep them active.  But…we shouldn’t let them quit.

 

When we let a child quit after a season or two, we never get to see if they could excel at the game.  Of course, one could argue that, if they don’t enjoy it, let them quit.  BUT, they aren’t enjoying it because they aren’t doing well.  Put them in a situation where they have a chance!

Just like the first prospector, he didn’t have the appropriate tools.  Maybe our kids don’t have the right tools.  When the second prospector took over, he brought in an engineer, a surveyor and a geologist.  He invested in the right tools.  Invest in the right tools for your child and your child will likely see an improvement in their game.  When their game improves so too will their attitude for the game.  Change their attitude and they’ll want to keep playing.

Finding the right tools can be a difficult task.  There are many companies that claim they have the right instructor, or the right camp for your child.  My recommendation, though, is to do your homework.  Seek out parents of kids that are excelling at the game and ask them where their child learned to play.  Which camps did they go to, or which instructor gave them lessons.

Quitting is something you don’t want to become a habit for your kids.  A child that quits one thing learns that they can quit the next thing they find to be a struggle.  If this habit repeats itself, the child fails to learn the concepts of dealing with failure or perseverance.  Dealing with failure and learning perseverance are life lessons that all parents should want their children to learn at a young age so they can deal with future obstacles that they will surely encounter as adults.

Give your kid a chance to find out if they can truly play the game.  I fear that many are quitting before they ever give the game a chance.  If they do experience frustration, and you feel they may want to quit; stand behind them and encourage them to push forward.  Invest in the proper tools…because success may just be three feet in front of them!

Why I Will Consider JUCOs for My Sons

“More the knowledge lesser the EGO, lesser the knowledge more the EGO!”

– Albert Einstein

As a High School Senior back in 1997, I never entertained the idea of continuing my baseball career at a Junior College (JUCO).  In fact, I don’t even think I discussed the option with my parents.  It wasn’t that I didn’t want to go to a Junior College; rather, I was simply unaware of the benefits of attending a Junior College.  Looking back, I would not have done things differently as my experience at Wake Forest University was as good as I ever could ask.  But, looking forward, JUCOs will definitely be in the picture if my sons have the chance to play past High School.

In my four year at Wake Forest, two of the best players I played with were products of Cypress College in Orange County CA.  Scott Daeley (now Recruiting Coordinator for University of Georgia) was our leadoff hitter for his two years at Wake and played as good of a centerfield as I have ever seen.  He was a major part of a team that won back-to-back ACC Championships and a team that fell to eventual national champion Miami in a 1999 Super Regional.  When Scott graduated in 1999, Cory Sullivan didn’t miss a beat in replacing Scott in center.  He hit .374 and .390 in his two years at Wake, while also anchoring our weekend rotation in his senior year, going 7-0 and leading us to another ACC Championship.  Cory would go on to play six seasons for the Rockies, Mets and Astros.  Not bad resumes for two guys that started their college careers at a two-year program.  Scott and Cory really opened my eyes to JUCOs.

For those that are familiar with two-year programs, the profiles mentioned above are no surprise.  Cypress College had 15 of its players from its 2017 roster transfer to four-year programs.  130 of the 1,215 players taken in the 2017 MLB Draft came directly from JUCO Programs.  Chipola College in Marianna, FL accounted for 10 of those 130 players, which was the third most of any college (two-year or four-year) in the draft.  Still not sold?  Well, consider this list of MLB stars that have played at JUCO programs: Bryce Harper, Jorge Posada, Mike Piazza, Curt Schilling, Andy Pettite, Albert Pujols, and Jackie Robinson.

But unfortunately, many parents and High School players I speak with are uneducated (just as I was) and turn a deaf ear to me when I begin to mention that they may want to look into two-year programs as a choice for college.  Outside of Florida, Texas, California and some other states, people are unaware of the benefits of two-year schools.  In the following few paragraphs I will cover a few of the reasons why these individuals may feel the way they do and why I believe they are misguided.  And by the way, when a player graduates from a four-year program after transferring from a JUCO, their degree says the name of the four-year school.

Some believe that two-year programs are for HS players that may rank towards the bottom of their class.

Yes, those that rank towards the bottom of their class may not have the grades to get into a four-year school; but JUCOs are not just for those that don’t excel in the classroom.  Scott and Cory were two of the brightest guys I knew, and not just bright on the diamond.  There is no shame in attending a two-year school.  Many schools are beginning to require greater credentials from their faculty.  Class sizes are generally smaller at two-year schools which leads to more personal instruction.  And the courses one takes in their first two years are the same courses one takes in their first two years at four-year programs.  From what I recall, Scott and Cory had most (if not all) of their credits transfer from Cypress to Wake Forest.  And Wake Forest is one of the finest academic institutions in the country.  So, if you find yourself, or your son towards the top of their class, don’t think that they will fall behind academically by attending a two-year school.

Some may believe that two-year programs are for families that can’t afford a four-year school.

This one makes me laugh.  I think very few can afford a four-year school these days without getting into significant debt?  Since I attended Wake, the tuition and fees have increased by almost 100%.  At most, schools have 11.7 scholarships for baseball.  And those 11.7 scholarships are potentially divided between 27 players.  Do the math.  Most players won’t have a full ride.  And for players that are given full rides, that simply leaves a smaller amount to be divided amongst the rest of the team.  And by the way, not every school gets the full 11.7 scholarships.  So, many, like myself, will receive a good scholarship; but will still find themselves paying off loans well after they leave school.  Two-year programs, on the other hand, have much more flexibility.  First, they are generally one-third the cost of four-year schools.  Second, schools will have up to 24 scholarships to spread throughout the team.  So, spending the first two years at a JUCO may just provide a significant financial relief to your family.

Some believe that two-year programs are for players can’t quite play at a four-year program.

This is as far from the truth as one could get.  When I was making the transition from second base to catcher in my Senior year at Wake, I spent a week during my Winter break with Scott Daeley at his home in Orange County, CA.  During the week, we would work out at Cypress College.  Scott was preparing for his third season with the San Francisco Giants while I was getting a crash course in catching.  When not working out, we spent time watching the Cypress team practice and play games.  Watching them play, I quickly learned one thing; that these teams could easily hang with (and beat) many Division I teams.  People have a perception that if you’re getting recruited by a Division I school then you must be good.  Well, I hate to burst some bubbles; but I would rather play at some D-II, D-III or JUCO schools than a good number of D-I schools.  They may have better coaches, better facilities, or even better players.  Remember Chipola College from earlier?  They had 10 players drafted this past June; more than 296 D-I programs.  There are plenty of quality JUCO programs out there and you would find that some D-I recruits would have a hard time making some JUCO programs.

Hopefully, after reading this, you are now a little more open-minded about considering a two-year program.  The purpose of this is not to sway one in the direction of JUCOs; but rather to make sure one is well-educated and considers all options.  Check your ego at the door when looking at the next four years and make the best decision based on your athletic goals, academic interests, financial status, and social environment preferences.