It’s been exactly one week since the Las Lomas High School JV baseball season ended. And it ended with a thud: a 16-2 drubbing at our home field, at the hands of Alhambra High (to be fair, we had a lefty catching, outfielders on the mound and infielders in the outfield because I figured we should have a little fun after a long season…).
My immediate reaction after it was over? Confusion.
Like, what the hell am I supposed to do for those 3-5 hours every weekday? What kind of hobby can I adopt that replaces an hour of lineup planning and scorebook scratching every night?
It’s not the same. Nothing beats spending the pre-sunset hours of spring and summer swinging a bat or throwing a ball or forcing adolescents to run wind sprints while you laugh maniacally.
But now that it’s been a full week, the withdrawals are starting to subside. I enjoyed coaching just as much as I’d hoped, and am already itching for a fresh start next season.
The 21 or so JV players who graced my team with their presence are all good kids at heart. No doubt in my mind. The toughest issue I had to face as a coach this year was an insatiable, team-wide thirst for my precious cracked pepper sunflower seeds. But god damn can those kids drive you crazy.
*I’ll pause to let anyone who has ever coached, taught or parented before me to knowingly nod and smile…and maybe grit their teeth*
It’s crazy to hear all the things my parents used to say to my rolling eyes and sarcastic nods come pouring out of my own mouth…and to see that they were right all along (pauses again so Mama and Papa Dorn can gloat).
“Practice makes perfect. Work hard to get what you want. Don’t take your childhood for granted. Give your best all the time. Be thankful for the opportunity. Respect your elders.”
And so on and so forth. Like I said, those 21 kids I coached are good. They’re smart, athletic and hilarious. But there are some I’m sure would rather get a root canal with a paper clip than expend effort at practice.
Many did work hard, and the results showed during games (imagine that!). And then there were the handful of players who figured their natural athleticism would breed with their self-supposed destiny to win and create a superhuman JV ball player, capable of hitting like Mike Trout or pitching like Clayton Kershaw.
Frustratingly enough, for a couple of those minimal-effort kids, they did play well during games (but they’d be so much better if they worked hard in practice). For most, they struggled.
Anyway, this isn’t a post dedicated to ragging on 16-year-olds who don’t like to follow orders with no obvious prize for doing so. It’s meant to be about how to be great and do great things, people need to put in the work.
Take me, for example. I’m the master of procrastination (more on this in an upcoming blog…). Always have been. It’s a curse that I’ve been trying to break forever. As I’ve grown older and become more passionate about writing, traveling and other things I love, I’ve gotten better about putting those hobbies ahead of certain distractions. And I’m always working on that; staying more focused on what I want to be great at.
Right now, I’m at a point in my life where I can sustain a decent living off purely freelance writing. This is where I’ve wanted to be for a long time, and it’s just the first step on an endless path.
It took years of writing for any publication I could get my hands on, sometimes for very little or no pay. It took hundreds of thousands of words dedicated to baseball, real estate, medicine, hotels, green energy and technology. Months of toiling away at jobs I hated, and hours tweaking my resume for other jobs I never really wanted. Dozens of failed ventures and a handful of lucky breaks.
But even at the peak of my procrastination, I’ve made sure to push through and put my goals ahead of the latest cat video or fashion trend. It’s taken a ton of work. A ton of practice. And now I’m finally playing well in the games.
I’m not sure if I would have been able to lock in as much as I have if not for the trip last year. It made me realize that I can do what I set my mind to and that my eyes can always be opened further than I’d imagined. When I look back, I see that I was essentially letting the places I visited and the people I met coach me on how to live. It’s turned me into a better writer, a more fearless person and a more confident leader.
And now, with a season of practice under my belt, I’m excited to get back out there eventually and keep trying to push those messages across to next year’s crop of JV ball players.
Because I know that if they just find it within themselves to take their hacks, and do their fielding drills and run their sprints, we’ll never have to worry about losing 16-2 again.
“Practice makes perfect. Work hard to get what you want. Don’t take your childhood for granted. Give your best…” And so on.