After a long battle, victory
Accomplishing one of your goals is not the end of the road. Your life doesn’t finish. You may have completed a chapter, but the novel continues. “It ain’t over until it’s over,” as the eloquent Yogi Berra said. I recently reached the top of a mountain and now look beyond to the ranges ahead, knowing this mountain was only a foothill. Almost 16 months after the injury that postponed my post-college baseball dream, I did it, I came to a formal agreement and I’ll be playing for a club in Melbourne, Australia this fall (spring down under 🙂 ), the Williamstown Wolves. Now, I turn my focus to preparing for my time there and contributing as much as I possibly can to the Wolfpack. Before I go into that new focus, I will talk a bit about how this agreement came into fruition and perhaps other aspiring baseball players can learn from it.
Beginning this spring, I sent emails out to over 130 clubs in Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. After the second round of emails in early May, I received promising responses from about a quarter of those 130 clubs and I decided those would be the ones I’d direct my attention towards as spring turned into summer. Things were looking up for me finally. Then disaster struck. When I hurt my shoulder at the beginning of May, I thought it was all over. I told the clubs I was corresponding with about my injury and expected them to react with empathy, but also to lose all interest in me. I was in a dark place for a couple weeks, uncertain about my shoulder, and very pessimistic about my chances of playing overseas. I stuck with it though, kept emailing clubs, and kept up with my rehab plan. To my surprise, most of the clubs were receptive to my honesty about the injury. It made them more interested in me!
One important thing I did in addition to being up front about my situation, was to offer to pay for my flight. I stressed that the only financial support I would need would be in the form of some kind of housing and help to find a part-time job. After hearing this, some clubs went from giving me the contacts of other clubs to changing their mind and wanting me to come over to play for them. They weren’t sure if they’d be able to find me a place to stay, however, they promised to try their best. I was jubilant when the president of the Williamstown Wolves wanted to have a skype session with me. We had a memorable chat, discussed expectations, and came out of it with an informal agreement. (Something funny: the club president was another young 20s guy like myself, I was calling him Mr. in the first couple of emails and he was like, dude no one has ever addressed me like that before…lol!).
All that was left for me to do was to prove my arm was healthy. Immediately after injuring myself, I frantically searched online for exercises to do, stretches, and range of motion tests. I came across a terrific exercise through Chris McKenzie’s website. A video demonstrating the exercise, known as ‘The Destroyer’, is below. All the information I gathered combined with the plan I created with my physical therapy would hopefully lead to a fully healthy arm. I went through my rehab program, a small step of progress every day, and gradually built my arm back up. This required a lot of faith because I was diagnosed with shoulder impingement and there could be a plethora of roots causes for it, some requiring a longer recovery period than others. It’s a very funny feeling to be working hard at something that you’re so unsure about. I mean, normally we have so much information at our fingertips that a lot of everyday uncertainty becomes a precise weather report, Uber pick up ETAs, and exact recipes for our favorite dishes. We try to eliminate as much uncertainty from our lives as possible. With my rehab, I had to trust the process. Do all I could do and then let it rip in a couple of months.
So that’s what I did. On July 24th I got back on the mound for a bullpen and then on July 31st I got back on the mound during a game. Both those times I wasn’t 100% sure my arm would feel good when I upped the intensity. It took some faith, faith that my rehab program was the recipe for my arm’s recovery. In regard to how my arm felt, both those outings were huge successes. In terms of real life results, the game didn’t go so well, not much velocity and poor command. I could definitely make rationalizations about the performance: that I didn’t have enough time to warm up, it was my first time pitching in over 2 months, 2nd time in 16 months, how it was incredibly hot outside, or how I squatted heavy the day before so my legs were weaker than normal. Instead, I learned what I could, mostly mechanical adjustments I must make to improve and took away some positives like my poise on the mound as well how good my arm felt. It’s a long road and it’s certainly something to build off of. So that’s what I’ll do.
I was watching LOTR: The Two Towers over the few days before my outing and finished it the night before. The scene where Sam rescues Frodo from the Nazgul and then gives one of the best speeches of all time always seems to evoke a flood of emotions for me. I love it. It makes me remember the good in the world. I cry. I gain the strength to keeping pushing on, fighting for another day. For the day when victory comes. ‘Victory, we have victory! In the end, it’s only a passing phase, this shadow. A new day will come. And when it comes the sun will shine out the clearer!’ My shadow has passed. Regaining my arm health and signing with an Australian team are significant victories for me. There will be more adversity. There will be more victories. Enjoy this moment fully. Then take another step forward tomorrow so I can give Williamstown every ounce of passion I got. Suerte.