One of Many

One of Many

Tryouts are hard.  Not just for the players, but their parents as well.  However, cutting kids is not a new thing, the practice of sifting through the many to get to the few has been around as long as there have been sports.  Is there a way to help kids navigate the difficult process of tryouts?  I think there is and it takes me back to when I tried out to become a professional baseball umpire.

In the spring of 1993, I was playing college baseball, working through injuries, and coming to the realization I wasn’t very good.  Halfway through the season, the pain was more than I could handle and I called it quits.  I then focused on trying to stay around the game I loved and began umpiring as many youth games as I could find which turned out to be a great job for a college kid.  Along the way, someone shared a thought that I should go to umpire school.  Not having an idea as to what that entailed, I researched “Umpire School” and learned there were three schools that lasted five weeks starting in January.  Halfway through my junior year of college, on January 1st, 1994, a 20-year-old kid hopped in his car and made the trek to Cocoa Beach to join approximately 125 other aspiring baseball umpires.  I honestly didn’t have a clue as to what I was getting myself into, I knew I liked baseball and I wanted to be around the game, but in my wildest dreams I hadn’t played out how hard it would be for 125 guys competing for ten spots would actually be.  You may ask how this applies to cutting kids from youth sports teams.  I’ll tell you.

After two weeks of constantly comparing myself to the other 124 students to see if I ranked at the top, I came to the realization what I thought didn’t matter and I could only control so much.  I told myself if I wasn’t selected I would go home with tremendous training and I’d be able to work college baseball games which would be an accomplishment by itself.  By coming to that conclusion, it seemed as if a tremendous weight was lifted from my shoulders and I then began to relax, have more fun, and enjoy what I was being taught and the people around me.  I’m certain the attitude adjustment was THE determining factor that helped me finish the five weeks earning the top spot in the class and a ticket to the next level.  The ‘control what you can control’ mentality continued to help me during my time in professional baseball but I continue to use it today in my personal and work life as well.

I share my experience as I wish our kids understood they can only control so much and if they just focused on themselves and what they can control instead of so many other factors, they’d be more relaxed, have more fun, less stressed, and ultimately more successful.

Best of luck during your next tryout, focus on you and it’ll all work out!

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