5:30 A.M: Beep! Beep! Beep! My alarm clock is going ballistic. I smash the snooze button and rollover only to find a sticky note I wrote to myself the night before, to remind me that sleep is for the weak. “Get the F*** up!” read this scribbled upon note. Polite to say the least. I probably knew how tired I was going to be, considering that I just cranked out a 5-page midterm essay into the late hours of the night before. I physically roll myself out of bed and onto the floor because my abs were too sore to sit-up as a result of the brutal core workout we experienced last night after practice. I throw on some mismatched workout clothes and hit the road for our 6 A.M. team conditioning. RISE AND GRIND BABY!
The biggest realization that playing college baseball gave me is that hard work is exactly what it sounds like. Hard. When I committed to playing a collegiate sport, I guess I never thought about what I was actually signing up for:
6 A.M: Team Conditioning
9 A.M-1 P.M: Classes
3 P.M: Practice
5 P.M: Study Hall
I became a creature of habit going through this daily routine, but it wasn’t always like that for me. I use to only do the bare minimum. And yes, that above schedule is the bare minimum. What you don’t see in the schedule is the extra time I put in the weight room after our conditioning. Showing up an hour before practice to get some extra swings in and staying an hour after to get some more fielding or conditioning in. How about my 6 P.M-8 P.M night classes because I was on a mission to finish my degree on time (I was 1 of 2 members of the baseball team to do it). Now throw in the amount of homework that it takes to maintain grades and add in preparing food to support the active lifestyle. Go ahead and subtract the social life because there is no way in hell you’re making time for that. My point is: Everybody wants to be GREAT, but nobody wants to WORK.
This work ethic didn’t start until the summer before my sophomore year. Coming out of my freshman year, I was a very average player, and I knew I had to have a huge sophomore season if I wanted to achieve my goals and continue to play at the next level of college ball. What I didn’t know was how much my life would change once I committed myself to achieving such.
I was hitting the gym twice a day on top of eating 5,000 calories to gain 10 pounds of muscle on my undersized body. I would be at the baseball field in the scorching summer sun for hours on end improving my game, begging my father to join and throw me batting practice. It was exhausting to say the least, but by far the most rewarding experience I put myself through (Shoot, I was looking damn good too.)
Once I discovered what hard work truly meant, I began to love the feeling of it. I was addicted, but I started to wonder what I was actually putting myself through. It ultimately led to a promise I made to myself before I started my sophomore year of college. I promised that if I didn’t have this stand-out year I was working for, that I would do the unthinkable; I would quit the sport. And who could blame me. My life was engulfed by this ethic I bestowed upon myself. I worked hard for an entire year for a “game.” The sport I loved so dearly became less about the fun, and more about the constant struggle with adversity.
My appreciation isn’t for the experience itself. My true appreciation is for the person I become after it. Today you’ll see me working full-time as a bro-isto at D&M Coffee Company, all while taking a full course load at school. You’ll still catch me in the gym daily, and I haven’t completely axed out the fun either; occasionally you might see me attending a night out at the bars. But only if the homework’s done. Some call me crazy but, believe it or not, I achieved my first “A” in class by doing this (5 years of college later). All I want for my readers is to know that life changes when the excuses stop. That a work ethic is one of the most important skills to have in life, but a classroom will never teach you this.
Now let me shut up and get myself back to work.