**This is an excerpt taken from a book I am writing**
It is not very easy to make the transition from spectator to player. When you are a player you experience a much greater level of emotions. Sometimes these emotions are troubling and other times they are great. I remember very distinctly a situation that seemed terrible at the time, yet it turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened to me. It was my senior year of high school and I was the starting shortstop for the Varsity baseball team. We had won the District Championship the last 3 years in a row. We were ranked number 1 in the state and 23rd in the nation. I won the Gold Glove Award my sophomore year for my defensive ability. We were now going for our 4th District Championship in a row against our biggest rivals. It was the last inning in a tied game with 2 outs and men on first and second base. The pitch was thrown and a routine ground ball came right at me, It was a play I have made thousands of times before with little effort. I was ready for it and as the ball approached me I picked my glove up too soon and the ball went right between my legs. At that moment, time seemed to slow down. I dropped to my knees and prayed the center fielder would pick up the ball and throw it home in time to catch the runner before he scored but it was too late. The runner scored and we went on to lose the game. I was crushed. I had just let my entire team down and we lost the District Championship.
It was not until that moment that I realized how much my team meant to me and what the game of baseball meant to me. It represented so much more than a ball going between my legs. It taught me how to deal with hardship. I could have chosen to give up and view myself as a failure or I could have chosen to redeem myself. I chose the latter. Although we lost the district championship, we still made it to the regional play-offs. We beat the first team we played and made it to the Regional Championship. We had the chance for a rematch against the team we lost to in the District Championship. We were playing them at their field, on their home turf. The stands were completely packed. This game was one of the biggest rivalries in the state. People were standing around the fence, on roof tops, and anywhere they could in order to get a spot to view this game. It was an exciting game for me because I had a chance to redeem myself. I went out on the field with full confidence and I was on a mission. It was one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had the pleasure of participating in. I played the best game of my life.
After the game we were shaking everyone’s hands on the other team and their coach pulled me aside. He had been coaching for about 25 years and has coached some of the most amazing baseball players in the state. Many have gone on to play college and professional baseball. He told me that I played the most amazing defensive game he has ever seen. Later on in the team huddle, my coach gave me the game ball. What made that moment so special to me was that in my four years and 150 games of playing baseball for him, it was the first game ball I had ever seen him give out. We lost the game that evening but it was a personal victory I will carry with me forever. I would have never had that experience if that ball did not go through my legs only a week earlier. I would have never learned how to bounce back from a hardship of that magnitude and in such a powerful way if I was only a spectator in the stands. As a player, you are dealing with much higher risks, however, the rewards increase exponentially. Michael Jordan said, “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
It ultimately comes down to a simple question. Do you want to let life just happen to you and drift whichever way the current takes you, or do you want to create the life of your dreams? For me the answer is obvious, however, you will need to make that decision for yourself. I hope for your sake you decide to be proactive and become a player in your life. I hope you step up with the courage to overcome adversity. I hope you begin to see challenges and hardships for the incredible lessons they have to offer you instead of sitting back and playing the victim. I hope you begin to realize some of the toughest situations, trials, and tribulations you will encounter are gifts that are wrapped in silver lining ready to offer you life lessons that of which have the power to take your life from ordinary to extraordinary.