Friday, December 5, 2008

Baseball and the backup plan

I started to play baseball when I was just 2 or 3 years old. I was in Little League and stood out from other kids my age. I played on local travel teams and caught the attention of many people. In high school, I was being scouted for college teams and ended up being offered scholarships to attend these schools. I was all Suffolk, then all Long Island in being noted as athletes to watch. I played third base and also pitched. In college I could throw a fastball over 88 mph regularly. When I played third base I was known to not allow a ball to get by me sometimes throwing my body at the ball like a maniac! I hit for a very high average priding myself as someone who very rarely struck out and usually hit screaming line drives through the infield with the ball just barely off the infield grass. I hit for occasional power, and was always able to move runners over into scoring position at will. I was as fast as lightning on the base paths, and I was a smart player because I studied the game so well. All this while weighing just 140 lbs. and being 5 foot 5 inches in height. I certainly had many knowledgeable people telling me I could possibly make the major leagues. I ate, breathed, and lived to play baseball sometimes not studying for my classes as I'd rather be playing or watching ball. Or, I'd be at the gym trying to get stronger, faster, or quicker. I had a dream as I was determined to make it my reality.

Well, I stupidly became involved with alcohol and other drugs and my ability to play at the level I had competed at fell off. My grades also dropped and I was becoming depressed. I lost my scholarship. This lasted for a year or so, but, I had lost my edge and subsequently my opportunity as well.

Luckily for me I had a back up plan. I had become very interested in psychology and sociology and thought I would want to be a psychotherapist. I put all my effort into my studies and my desire to be excellent at what I had now identified as my goal. I changed my college major to Social Work and Psychology from Physical Education. I continued to play ball on the university team but there was no discounting the fact that I was certainly not the player I had once been. This was a valuable lesson for me to learn even at this young age.

I have shared this story with many others as the years have gone by. Opportunity knocks and one has to be fully prepared to answer the door and dedicate oneself to this chance. When one becomes less focused and lethargic the opportunity may be gone forever. The back up plan is something we all have to have in place. We can learn from lost opportunities and make the most of second chances.

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