Indian Hill High School '88
Taylor University '92
Sports cultivated and changed my direction in life but not in an obvious way. I wasn’t expecting to be a professional baseball player but I thought I may have shot at playing at a higher level after a better than expected Junior year. Going into Senior year, I got glasses 2 weeks before the season started which changed my depth perception. It completely messed me up and took me all year to recover.
I thought about trying to play baseball at Division III or NAIA school but I was completely off the radar and lost the desire after that season.
Loving sports, I still wanted to do something and decided to see if there was an opportunity to play golf in college. I wasn’t on anyone’s radar there either but a school who was growing their program was needing my special skills of better than average talent. I hadn’t put in the time to play at a higher level but if someone wanted me – I would give it a shot. I ended up backing out of one school mid summer and deciding to go to another because the coach wanted to me to come play. (One lesson – give it a shot – so what if you fail)
Playing golf in college was one of the highlights of my time in college. I think any sport at the college level challenges you in ways you don’t expect. It gives you an opportunity for experiences you wouldn’t have. You don’t have to be on TV to feel the nerves and pressure of standing over a ball wondering if this is going to make the difference between your team advancing or not. The pressure is a real feeling. You can either run from it or decide to embrace it. It is a training ground for other obstacles in life. Both deciding to clear the obstacle and deciding not to clear the obstacle can be great decisions. Either way – go for it after the decision is made.
It seems that playing for smaller schools often gets overlooked. There are probably top athletes playing at Division I schools today that would be better served in life playing at a smaller school where you can get involved in the community and fabric of college life much easier. I was able to get involved in other ways at the school which for me created a much richer experience in college very similar to attending a smaller high school with less people vying for the same opportunities.
If you love a sport when younger, find someone who can teach you the skills. Too many coaches don't know the skills, don't know how to teach the skills and have no desire to teach the skills. Get it somewhere. I would have been on youtube a ton if it had existed at the time to learn. Pick up an alternative sport and don't just play one. It stretches your brain and also teaches you how to use your muscles more completely. Play an instrument, do something artistic, and stretch yourself. If I were to do it all over again, I would branch out even more in High School and College. I wish I had joined the Chess Club and possibly Math Team. For various reasons: One, to stretch my brain, but also to be around a wider variety of other people who could help me look at the world at more angles.
These two things hold true in sports but they hold true in almost everything:
> When you are younger you will always find someone more talented.
> When you are older you will find out who didn't quit.
Amazing Jim with what seemed to be just a small change with having to wear glasses in baseball and how it affected your ability in such a big way. What I really like is how you took this bad situation and turned it around! You gave another sport a chance and didn't give up! You even made a change in colleges months before it started to make your desire with playing a collegiate sport a reality. Thanks for sharing your story as I know you'll be able to help encourage others who are in a similar situation to press on and not give up even when things don't look so good. -Gary Rogers