By Eric Johnson
It’s the time of year when high school juniors are waiting for calls, emails, and their first college offers. You might be among them. It’s an exciting time, especially when you hear that your friends are going to realize their dreams of playing college ball.
But there is a huge group of high school ballplayers who won’t be hearing from recruiters or coaches in the coming weeks or months. It’s tough, but not getting offers does not make you less of a ballplayer than your teammates who have already committed to schools. The best player on my college team didn’t commit to a college until Spring of his senior year, and he went on to be a consistent all-conference player and is now in the minor leagues.
Without contacts from coaches or recruiters, you might start questioning your chances of ever getting in. Your confidence fades. You hear yourself saying, “I’m thinking of trying to play ball in college.” Well, that’s ridiculous. That’s the worst thing you can say to yourself. Here’s lesson number one about the road to college baseball: If you love baseball, commit yourself one hundred percent. There can’t be any “thinking” or “trying” about it. Love the game, or leave it.
College baseball is a privilege. It was the most challenging thing I’ve ever done in my life. I hope that you get the opportunity to play the game in college because you will come to understand that it really is the “hard that makes it great.” Just as it was the most challenging thing I’ve ever done, it was also the most rewarding experience of my life. The memories of the people you meet, the experiences on and off the field, and the friendships you form will last a lifetime, whether or not you play professionally. But there’s a price. Playing collegiate baseball is hard. It’s literally blood, sweat, and tears. I can guarantee that you’ll face a time when you aren’t sure if you can go on playing, maybe because of a slump, an injury, a coach, a brutal workout, academic struggles, overwhelming time commitments or a million other reasons.
What separates a college ballplayer from someone just “thinking of trying to play” is love. Love for the game. Pure and simple. If you love the feeling you get when you take the field, the feeling of making perfect contact or throwing a filthy hammer for strike three, if the greatest feeling in the world to you is when your teammates mob you, pound on your helmet and slap you on the back because you hit the walk-off single, if you live for the fist-pump you give when the final out of a victory is recorded, then play college ball. If you love the game, play college ball. But you won’t get there if you don’t love it, because it will be hard.
So, if you have that love, make a point of never saying you’re “thinking about playing” in college. Commit to it. Use this website as your tool. And next time someone asks you of your college plans, say, “I want to play baseball, and I’m going to find a way, because I love it.”