Season Ending Sagas

Beckett T-ball

Throughout my sports career, I have been fortunate to play on some great teams. Despite how many great teams there are playing, only one team wins the championship at the end of the season, well at least only one should. Regardless of how much talent your team has, the odds are that your season ends without the big win. This loss leaves a bitter taste in your mouth, a feeling of sadness and disappointment, but thankfully providing a motivation to put forth extra determination, in the offseason. Because, of course, “there’s always next year.”

Like any other athlete, I have been through my share of season-ending heartbreaks: Grounding into a double play in high school to end the run at the state championship; losing in the college world series after being ranked number 1 in the nation for 52 straight weeks; winning the last game of the year only to realize your team did not even make the playoffs; and lastly, being hit in the eye with a baseball and losing vision to end my baseball career.

Sports have their emotional ups and downs. I have won some championships and ended seasons on top. But my sports career is just like most others, filled with a lot of hard work, preparation, and practice only to come up a little short. I’ve left seasons with a bunch of “what-ifs” running through my mind.

One common factor in all of the season-ending experiences I’ve had was that they were all in our team’s control. Either we lost the game or someone beat us. Whichever way you look at it, the game actually played on the field is what determined the final outcome. When we lost, we lost “fair and square”, as we used to say it as kids.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t this year for all the athletes out there. This year the ending of the season was one that I have never experienced or could have dreamed of experiencing throughout my career. This year ended not because of a walk-off home run or buzzer-beating jumper; rather, it was an outcome that no one could control. All of the offseason's hard work, practices, and preparation ended with uncertainty and confusion.

For example, this was my 5-year-old son, Beckett's first year playing T-Ball. He was ecstatic to wear his White Sox jersey, his new cleats, his new glove, his "real" baseball bat, and even to try the sunflower seeds (starting him young). Beckett was two games into his first season, finally learning where first base was, which direction to run, and of course how to keep score. His season ended this year heartbreakingly because of a pandemic.

The abrupt end to this season is a great reminder to everyone—not just the athletes—to treat every game and every opportunity like it is your last. You never know what circumstances may cut your “season” short. It’s important to be proud of the work you’ve done leading up to it.

Sports parallel life in so many ways. So, whether it's sports, work, or your personal life, never take a day off! You never know which just may be your last. (Don't believe me, Ask Wally Pipp)

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