1. Looking over your career what have you enjoyed the most and are most proud of?
Man, I enjoyed most things about college baseball. It was a lot of hard work and I devoted a lot of hours and pain and sweat to this game and my career, but it was all worth it. I think, over my baseball career, the thing I enjoyed the most was simply the brotherhood that came along with my team at Corban. The guys I played with were so passionate, both about the game, and about each other. And the memories with those guys are memories I wouldn’t trade for anything. From a physical performance standpoint, though, the accomplishment I am most proud of is playing Left Field my senior season. Due to injuries, and a need, I filled in as our everyday left fielder for the last 2/3 of the season. Being a short, plump 1st Baseman my entire career, it was definitely an adjustment. But I worked really hard to make that adjustment and, in the end, I felt like I did a pretty adequate job in the outfield. To me, that was the biggest adjustment I had to make and I am proud of how well it turned out.
I have been impacted by many people through my baseball career: my little league coaches, my high school coach, my father, and especially my coaches at Corban. The one person that impacted me and helped me the most through my baseball career would have to be my older brother Andrew. He had been a college baseball player and he had gone through a lot of the same trials as me (especially on the mental side). He also had a swing that was eerily similar to mine (weird, right?), so he was able to see things in my swing that even my coaches and teammates couldn’t pick up on. That was really helpful. Most of all, though, he was always encouraging.
3. During your college career you dealt with a season ending injury and have had to recover from that. What was your mindset going through your rehab and what steps did you need to take to return to the field.
Honestly, my goal was always to just get back to being healthy. And I pushed my rehab as much as possible to get back as quickly as possible. As cliché as it may sound, the only thing that really helped me in my recovery process was time. I was fortunate, in that I had a significant amount of time before my competitive season started back up, so I had the luxury of being able to fully heal before pushing it physically again.
At the same time, though, I decided that there was a lot to learn from sitting while I was injured. A huge piece of baseball is the mental game, and that was something I really struggled with early on in my career. When I was hurt, I really zoned in on the mental side of the game, and focused on learning the game instead of simply playing it.
4. What was it like playing at a Christian University? What benefits did you find playing with other believers?
To be honest, the Christian aspect of our team was what ultimately kept me at Corban. I loved our coaches. I loved the school. I loved my teammates. But what really set Corban apart was the fact that my teammates were dedicated to growing as followers of Christ as well as developing as baseball players. I had some of the most in-depth, meaningful conversations about life and faith with my teammates, and because of that my faith was enabled, not hindered, by the sport I played.
In our society, as in any society really, people often define their self-worth in their successes and failures in the world. In what they do. For some, their self-worth is determined by the number written on their paycheck. For others, it’s the square feet in their new house. It could be anything. For athletes, it’s often their success in the sport they play. If you’re a baseball player, that’s a bad gig to find your self-worth in. When 70% of the game is about how you respond to failure, it’s pretty hard to have a high self-worth.
Being a Christian, I know that my self-worth doesn’t come from my success or failure on the field, but rather from Christ and what He did for me on the cross. And I know that that’s not a 70/30 tossup like baseball is – that is something I can count on. 100 times out of 100. It took me a long time to realize that, but once I did it allowed me to understand that baseball is a game. And, at the end of the day, no matter how good or bad you did, that’s all it is. And, because it’s a game, I can relax and just play the game. If I get out – it’s a game. If I hit a home run – it’s a game. In the end, it doesn’t matter. It’s freeing, really. There is no pressure.
6. You went on a mission trip this summer to Caimanera, Cuba. Why did you choose to do something like this?
Yes, Corban’s baseball program went on a 7-day baseball/mission trip to Caimanera, Cuba the first week of June, and I was blessed to be one of the players that got to go on the trip. I wasn’t initially interested in the trip – I felt like it would be inconvenient and I wanted to be selfish – but God had other ideas. I felt a constant tug on my heart to pursue this trip, and see what would happen with fundraising and the other details. God pulled everything into place – the money came in, the visas and passport got here just in time – it was definitely a God thing.
7. If you were to give advice to kids starting the game of baseball and hoping to play in college what would you tell them?
There are lots of things to say: work hard, never give up on your dream, etc . . . but the one thing I would tell kids that were starting is to play the game. And to remember that it is a game. It’s ok to love the game. It’s ok to work hard at the game. It’s ok to want to be the best at the game. Those desires are natural and healthy and they should be there. BUT, you can’t forget that it’s a game. Take time off – play a different sport when baseball isn’t in season. Take a summer off. Go on vacation with your family to Disneyland or wherever else. The biggest mistake I see is that people lose the passion for the game, because they get burnt out on it. Missing a couple of tournaments when you’re 10 years old isn’t going to have a negative impact on your career when you’re 18, 19, 20. Make baseball a really fun thing you love to do – don’t let it become the only thing you do. Don’t let it be your life. Enjoy it – play the game – have fun.