Growing up all I wanted to do was play sports and eventually it became that my whole life revolved around baseball. It’s the game I love and for the majority of my best friends it is what they fell in love with first also. When I was little all I would do is watch baseball on TV or want to play catch with anyone who would let me throw the ball their way and like every kid who plays baseball at a young age, I wanted to play in the MLB when I got older. Luckily, I had the opportunity to come to the University of Pikeville and play four years of college baseball and make amazing memories and meet friends that have now become like my brothers. But, something that stopped me in my tracks after my senior year was, “what happens now?” This is my story about my struggles after playing baseball was over and to let athletes know there is a purpose out there even though at times you can be lost.
In August 2018, I was entering my senior year at UPIKE just coming off the summer of my life. I got the opportunity to go to San Francisco, CA and play baseball all summer with people from all over the world. I won the Great West League Home Run Derby while out there and coming back to UPIKE, I was a new player with more confidence than I had ever had. Fast forward to February, 2019 and the season is upon the bears. Luckily, I ended up having a senior year that I believe anyone would be proud to have and I will always cherish those four months of my senior year for as long as I live. But then we were eliminated from our conference tournament and now I have to see if one of the two MLB teams that called me during the season would take a chance on me.
Now fast-forward to June 5th, 2019 which is the third and last day of the MLB draft. My hitting coach Sam Taylor from summer ball told me that he expected the Blue Jays to call me on this day if he was a betting man. Come 3:00pm no phone call. That’s the first time I ever met depression at a legitimate level. So now I had no idea what I was going to do now that baseball was over for me. This was the first time in my life I actually felt lost and felt like I had nobody to talk to or a direction I was supposed to go in. I had conversations with my friends but nothing seemed to help and I have always been a Christian and believer in God but truthfully it was the first time I had also doubted that God was looking out for me because I didn’t see a light at the end of my tunnel I was walking through. And I know that I am not the only former athlete who has battled this because I know the time, work, sweat, tears and effort that athletes put into their performance and career when they are a college athlete.
Over the month of June, I don’t know if left my rooms at my mom’s house much because I didn’t know what to do. I applied for regular 9-5 jobs and even got called back by four or five of them but nothing seemed right so I turned them all down because I wanted to be happy again. To my friends, I never showed a second of me being down or depressed because I didn’t want them to worry about me or think anything was wrong. Depression was beating me up every single day and it was something that I couldn’t take anymore. I finally called my college coach Jim Pitt and let everything out that had been inside me that I felt was winning the battle I was in.
So what changed after my call with Jim Pitt? I thought about the relationships I had made with coaches that I spent time with like Coach Pitt, Ethan Utley, Kelly Wells, Jake Sokoll, Sean Ryan and so many more. I wanted to have the impact on college athletes and possibly better those athletes like these people did for me. So, I decided to apply for Graduate Assistant coaching jobs and most importantly I started to pray again for God to point me in the direction I was supposed to go. Literally three days later, Cody Andreychuk called me and offered me the GA position at Lindsey Wilson College. I decided to take the leap of faith and take the job and it was the most rewarding year of my life even through a COVID shortened season. I realized that there is a purpose for me and that purpose is to help young people and use my experiences and struggles to better them because they have made me a better person every single day since I took that job. Now I am the Head Assistant Coach/Recruiting Coordinator for LWC softball and often I think back to when I was in the darkest place of my life and think about all the good that came from it and how grateful I am that I didn’t let it defeat me. To an athlete that has read my post/story, I want you to know that even when times seem dark, there is a purpose for you in life after sports. Whether you stay around the game like I have or not, YOU HAVE A PURPOSE. At times it could seem like everything is against you and you have lost it all but there IS A PURPOSE. Also, I understand that some of you reading this may not be a believer in God and I am not one to judge that but even if he is not someone you lean on, lean on your friends or someone you trust, do not let everything depression brings build up inside you because it only makes it harder to escape. The biggest question I have been faced with in my life came after baseball was over was, “What Comes Next?” And I wanted to share this because I want people to know there is hope and everyone has a purpose in their life after sports.