There is nothing more exciting than heading into your first year of college baseball. It will be unlike anything that you've ever experienced, and it's an absolute blast. The anticipation builds and builds that summer after you graduate high-school, and you start visualizing how you're going to mash against top arms on a Friday night.
Then you show up to campus, and you're surrounded by grown men with beards.
You're thrown into a crazy schedule of classes, morning lifts, team meetings, and long practices. It can be a lot to take in.
Freshman year can become overwhelming for a lot of guys, and I've had multiple teammates end their careers because they just couldn't handle it, and I've also seen guys get cut at the break because they just weren't performing at a high level. Especially now with the covid deal, rosters are absolutely swamped with old guys that should've graduated who are getting another shot, which makes it harder for freshman to get on the field. With all of that being said, here is what I would say to those young guys heading into campus:
If you want to stand out, you're gonna have to be bold.
You can't just hide in the back and go through the motions, especially when it comes to practice and morning weights. You're going to get called out, regardless of how well you do. You're a freshman. And in my experience, it wasn't because I wasn't performing well enough.
It was because they were seeing how I react to pressure.
99% of freshman stand in the back of the lines out of sight during team activities thinking things like:
"Oh well I'm just a freshman so I haven't earned the right to be up there."
"I don't want to make a mistake so I'm just going to stand back here and hope they don't look at me."
Doing all that is all well and good... if you want to be average.
If you're ok with being on chart duty on a Friday night vs. Texas Tech.
If you're ok with being a follower.
I am saying all of this because I've been there. I caved to that pressure when I first started by freshman year, and it wasn't a good feeling knowing that I could've been bold, and pushed the fear of failure aside during things as small as leading stretches and taking the first rep of live defense.
Trust me, you don't want that feeling. It absolutely blows.
So when you step on campus, take the first week or so to truly study how stretches are run, and go up there and lead it. Figure out how every drill is operated, then throw yourself in there for that first rep. Take the risks, even if that means that you might fail.
Coaches and players have a lot more respect for the freshman that fail when being bold than for the guys who stand in the back in hopes of just getting by.
If you want your shot in the spring of your freshman year, regardless of what level program, be bold from the start. Take the safety off and throw yourself into situations that make you uncomfortable. Trust me when I say it will pay off in the long run.