Whenever I hear the term focus on radio or television I think of our son Jeff. Nobody ever said that he was the best athlete in his class, but through pure will, determination, and focus he earned a college scholarship. Growing up it was unclear whether he preferred playing basketball or baseball. His room was filled with posters of stars from both sports. His desire to shoot jump shots until the sun set was only surpassed by his insistence that my husband continue to throw him batting practice until either darkness set or Jim’s arm needed to be iced down. Then around the time Jeff started high school, it became clear which sport was winning the tug-of-war.
Jim was an OK athlete growing up. He played a handful of different sports but was probably a better coach to our kids than he ever was a player. He encouraged Jeff, and his sister Tammy, to try out anything that they were interested in and see what they enjoyed most. For Jeff, we knew it was baseball when he told us that if was going to pitch in college, he needed to play fall ball, which by default would end his basketball career.
I was skeptical of him dedicating all of his time to baseball. I still look at him as a kid and don’t see the need to be doing the same thing everyday, that’s for adults and jobs. Needless to say, he wasn’t going to listen to me, and in fact he was right.
During his sophomore year he started getting inquiries from small colleges in our area. As a junior the mailbox filled up with letters from schools around the country, though they weren’t big name universities. After making sure Jeff found a place that was good academically, and would provide an opportunity for him to excel, he made a choice of where to attend just before his senior baseball season began.
The first game he pitched in as a senior his arm didn’t feel right. His coach suggested just to be safe we see a doctor. Our family practice suggested a few orthopedic doctors to consult. Before we knew it Jeff was going to need to be operated on.
We consulted with three orthopedic doctors who all came to the conclusion that Jeff needed surgery. Because we made sure that he had picked a college that was not only good athletically, but caring and understanding, they promised to honor their scholarship to Jeff. They even told him that he probably would have had to red-shirt anyway, so sitting out a season to recover from surgery was no big deal.
The college even let us talk to their orthopedic doctors to make sure that we were having the procedure done correctly the first time by somebody who was familiar with the needs of athletes. Because we dotted all of the I’s and crossed all of the T’s, everything went perfectly.
It took a couple of years of rehab, great patience, and of course focus, but Jeff is now a successful college baseball player. Adversity will hit everybody, but those with guile and dedication tend to make it through the best.