“Baseball is a game based on adversity. It’s a game that’s going to test you repeatedly. It’s going to find your weaknesses and vulnerabilities and force you to adjust. That adversity, in the big picture, is a really good thing because it shows you where your weaknesses are. It gives you the opportunity to improve.” ~Theo Epstein
We finished up a huge chapter of life this past weekend; my son graduated from high school and played in his last high school baseball game. While I’m still trying to process the past week and the finality of it all— I mean I’ve only been dreading this day for the past 18 years— I’m overcome with pride and happiness. The accomplishments have been huge, the heartaches have been few, and the memories have been countless.
Many hours over the past 18 years have been spent at the baseball diamond, where Caden discovered his passion. This past weekend, fittingly, we spent what should have been his graduation day at the Colorado State Baseball Tournament watching Caden pursue his passion again.
Eleven seniors, many of who have played together for 10-plus years, chose the baseball diamond over “Pomp and Circumstance;” cleats and baseball caps over gowns and mortarboards; they chose to compete rather than to walk.
“Baseball is a game based on adversity. It’s a game that’s going to test you repeatedly…” Friday’s loss was difficult, painful, heartbreaking. Over the past few years, this team has become familiar with losing in the last inning by one lousy run—after all, it’s what eliminated them from the playoffs last year.
“…It’s going to find your weaknesses and vulnerabilities and force you to adjust…” However, Saturday morning, while their classmates accepted their diplomas, the team wouldn’t accept another defeat. In a lingering 11-inning game (seven innings are the norm), the team adjusted; Friday’s weaknesses became their strengths and they persevered. Holding onto a one-run lead, but with runners on second and third and only one out, we were sure another loss was on the horizon. But an amazing catch turned into a double play and a victory. The excitement on their faces proved they’d made the right choice. The baseball diamond is where they belonged—together as a team.
While the third game played immediately after the win wasn’t another victory as we’d hoped for, the boys walked off that field as champions. They pushed through and gave it their all.
“…That adversity, in the big picture, is a really good thing because it shows you where your weaknesses are. It gives you the opportunity to improve.” Throughout life, Caden, you’ll face many hardships, heartbreaks, disappointments, but know those are opportunities to improve to make it better, to find strength, to win.
We’ve watched you grow from a curious little boy into an incredible man with values, goals and high aspirations. You’ve made us proud with every path you’ve taken. You’ve proven that passion and hard work turn into success, and we’re excited to see where else those ideals will take you.
There are so many things from your school days that I’ll miss, but most of all it will probably be the look on your face when I make you and your friends take yet another picture. Mostly compliant, I hope you realize how much those moments meant to me. Letting go is never easy, and I plan to slowly do it over the next four years—thank you for staying close to home for college and keeping baseball a part of your life— but I feel confident that you’ll be just fine. As you’ve done for the past several years, keep your eye on the ball, Caden; that is where you’ll find success in all that you do.