Tuesday, April 29, 2014


I was coaching this past weekend and of course, some of the kids are talented, but they’re talented for them, meaning, they have the tools to be successful on the field if they were just being themselves, but like you and I did many years before… they pretend to be their idols. Don't know what I mean? Keep reading...

One of the kids skipped out to field a grounder, backhanded it, hopped up and tried to make the throw to first… it was circa 1996 Derek Jeter.  I knew exactly what he was doing.   Then, it poured out of his mouth...

“I’m trying to be Jeter!” I looked at him and rained on his parade immediately, 

Don’t be Jeter… be you!”

He nodded, walked to the back of the line and waited for his next one.  I wasn’t mad, I was proud. Proud of Jeter for all he accomplished in his life, and proud of the fact that ever kid wants to be him.  But my words were important, because in the end, you want these kids to do it their way.  The way that works for them.  Sure, over time, you can become that “Jeter type” player, but for now, the fundamentals need to happen.  You’ll get there, through practice… trust me.

When I was a kid and wanted to be Rickey Henderson, but I knew that I had to learn it first. I mastered the stolen base, but in the end, I remember I took my own credit. I accomplished it. Henderson was my role model, but Rickey wasn’t training me... I was.

Derek Jeter is the greatest role model ever, but that’s what he is, a role model. You learn by example, but in the end, it’s what the individual does for himself.  I tell me son the same thing.  I have hammered home, “Well, you have to practice.” He looks at me like I've been 42 all my life. It's funny actually, because, and  I tell him that distractions make it easy to NOT practice, but you should do it anyway and trust me, you will improve!

When you’re a kid, you're surrounded by a ton of other activities that are better than practice or “work”.  My son's included in that. But you know what? Once my kid is out there, there’s no one better on the field. It's getting him there that's sometimes tough.  My guy's instinctive and quick and knows what’s expected of him. But in the end, he also doesn’t want to be Derek Jeter… my son wants to be himself.  He’s got that Leo thing that I have. Sure, we like our heroes, but we want the recognition… we’re the lion! We want to be king!  We want to do it our way and prove that we’re the king of the mountain!  I get it totally, but at the same time, work needs to happen to be king, doesn't it?

So what’s this about? Working at being you. Climb the mountain because YOU want it.  Do it YOUR way. Train. Work. Practice and believe.  There is no one more inspirational, than a Derek Jeter, or a Mike Trout or even a Laura Posada (Read THE DETERMINATION & WILL OF LAURA POSADA) or her husband Jorge.  Fight hard, work hard, climb the mountain!  There is no better example of that than someone that my son has admired, Ty Hensley. Sure, Ty’s in the minors, but he was signed by the New York Yankees when he was drafted a few years ago.  It didn’t stop for him there. In fact, it was just the beginning.  Now he’ll work his way to the next level, and the next.  And if he goes to Trenton, guess who will be there? I will, with my son by my side, rooting him on.  Why? Because role models need to know just how important they are. 

Once a kid sees a hero, they strive to be that, but again, always remember to remind that child to not try to be someone else…try to be themselves! If they do that, they will always be successful.

I know, I know, it sounds like I’m preaching. I’m not.  It’s just this thing I have in the back of my mind lately.  Over time, I’ve learned it to, but it goes back to Henderson for me.  As I sat in my lawn chair watching my son play ball this weekend, I realized that while he loves the game, and the role models are there, he sees them, he knows what they’re about, but he wants it for him. Sure, there will be struggle, just like you and I struggled as kids, but I know he’ll get there. He'll get there through encouragement, through believing, and through being himself.  And you know what?  He’s got some balls too… and that makes me damn proud.

Go for it kid. Your breakthrough’s coming. You're doing it your way!

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