I hope you understand
how incredibly powerful your words can be.
Just before my sophomore season at Fresno City College I was invited to a winter camp at Long Beach State.
I was EXTREMELY excited to be invited but also pretty nervous.
My dream was to play D1 baseball but I still was having the “imposter syndrome” doubts of, “Am I good enough? Can I really play D1?”
To be honest, I was coming off a decent freshman season in junior college and still grappling with my identity there, like “Wow, I can’t believe little ol’ me is starting at FRESNO city college!”.
And now here I was, getting very real interest from Long Beach State, a perennial top 10 program at the time.
There were some monster names coming through LB: Jered Weaver, Troy Tulowitzki, Evan Longoria….
…but at the time, none bigger than this one:
Bobby was a shortstop and had just signed a contract with the Oakland A’s as their first round draft pick …and he drove a new Escalade.
For a 19 year old kid, this literally is the dream.
This was winter time so he was hanging around the 2 day camp and wherever he was, people took notice.
I end up having a VERY good weekend. Hard contact at the plate, throwing guys out trying to stretch triples, turning double plays…all of it. Just one of those things where I picked a good weekend to have a good weekend.
And my last at bat of the weekend I crushed a high fastball but got way underneath of it. The ball ends up being caught at the track.
But I killed that ball.
And Bobby happened to be standing at the end of our third base dugout during this part of the game, and
as I crossed in front of him…he says this:
I stop my jog and walk over to him.
He says with a very serious look on his face, “Are these coaches talking to you?”
Right when he says that he looks over to the first base dugout where all of the coaches were, as if he were about to get their attention to make sure they talk to me.
I say, “Yeah, I’ve been on the phone with Buckley and Barbara (coaches at the time) a little bit, so we’re talking.”
He looks back at me – no smile or anything – and says, “Ok. Good.”
Right then some guy walks up and throws his arm around him and was like “Hey Bobby!” and so Bobby and I just gave each other a head nod and I went to put my helmet away.
I can still remember standing by the helmet rack, putting my batting gloves in my helmet and thinking:
“Bobby Crosby….thinks I’m alright.”
I had always *thought* and *hoped* that I was pretty good, but from that moment on….I believed it.
That one simple exchange – I can say with no exaggeration – changed my life.
And do you want to talk about the ULTIMATE throw away comment from Bobby!!
If you ask him a day later – shoot, an hour later – what he said to me, he probably wouldn’t be able to tell you.
And I will remember it for the rest of my life.
The thing is, we underestimate what an impact we can make – and are making – with our words.
We get caught up just watching ball games that we forget that these boys and girls out there are waiting for something ELSE to tell them what kind of player they are.
For most, the game results tell them WHO they are. And if you let the game tell you who you are, it’s gonna tell you that you suck most of the time.
Every now and then it’ll give you a reprieve with a great day, but most of the time it’s gonna point out how many times you mess up.
So as parents and coaches, WE have to help them determine WHAT THEY THINK OF THEMSELVES.
Kids will believe what adults tell them, they really will.
If you have ever had a positive thought about a player on your kid’s team, and you DID NOT SHARE IT….
…man, what a missed opportunity.
A LIFETIME memory may have just been made….but you didn’t share it.
And “good job!” ain’t it. “Hey _____, your bat looked so fast today. I really love watching you hit.”
For some players you have to dig a little deeper….but those are the ones who could use a genuine compliment the most.
And I want you complimenting your own kid, but compliments to your own kid can be easily brushed off.
But a compliment from another parent? Feels like a million bucks.
So parents/coaches, be mindful of how powerful your words are.
Your words are going to create their self identity – for better or for worse – so make sure you are choosing carefully.