You could say playing baseball in Colorado can be a bit tricky at times.
A shorter season and most of your offseason workouts inside, the game comes a little differently. And as a pitcher, throwing at high altitude where even average contact from a hitter can put the ball over the fence, it can be a difficult adjustment.
Growing up, Colorado was never really thought of as a baseball state, but as I started my high school career, I started to see the state produce talented players that moved on to play in college. I hoped that one day, I’d get that chance too.
During the spring of my sophomore year of high school, that hope started to become a reality. After a busy summer talking with colleges, the idea really started to sink in. I wasn’t sure where I would end up, but I at least knew I’d have a chance to continue my career at the next level.
With my junior season approaching, I decided to take a visit to the University of Oregon. I immediately fell in love with the program and what they had to offer. But, even with this amazing visit, this wasn’t really what made my decision.
I was laying in bed the night before my flight home to Colorado, and all I could think about was my future. I couldn’t sleep and I just thought about where I would end up. An overwhelming feeling came over me, and in that moment, I knew that the University of Oregon was where I was meant to end up.
I wanted to commit the next day but my mom said to give it some time to re-evaluate, so I listened like good sons do. But within 24 hours of being back home, I couldn’t wait any longer. I made the call to commit to being an Oregon Duck.
I thought my future was decided, but more opportunities seemed to be coming my way.
College recruitment can be difficult, but when you throw in other options, the process can be even more stressful. Later in my high school career, the option of turning pro became one of those options. Throughout my senior year, I took home visits with scouts, all trying to convince me why a direct path to the pros was my best option.
I was still committed to being a Duck, but as a young player, you have to at least listen.
During the winter, the visits increased, and I started to feel like there was a good chance I would be selected in the 2014 Draft. With all that was happening, it was an exciting time for both my family and me, but I was ready to find out my fate.
As my senior season approached, I didn’t really see that there was any added pressure with the decision lingering. I just wanted to get it over with. I was also just focused on getting ready for our season and winning another state championship for our high school.
But as the season was about to start, I broke my leg, ending my season before it even began.
With the injury, naturally, I immediately thought about the draft. It seemed like in one moment, all hopes of being drafted high enough to pass up college were gone. As the draft approached, I still was speaking with scouts, but I was unsure of how things had changed.
But even with my injury, I was still blessed to be selected by the Boston Red Sox.
With the excitement, came a bigger decision.
No matter what my decision would be, school had always been a big part of my life and was even more important during this decision. When it finally came time to make the decision, I felt that the financial commitment that was being offered to me was not worth passing up an education.
It may seem like an easy decision from the outside, but if you put a six-figure number in front of an 18-year-old, watch how easy it is for them
Honestly, I know they’d be lying if they said it didn’t at least spark their interest. But sometimes, when faced with a decision that affects your future, you have to look past the present and think about what is best for you long term. Unfortunately, that is not known to be a teenager’s expertise.
But in the end, playing for the University of Oregon was the opportunity that best supported my future. I still remembered that moment I had in the hotel room in Eugene, and once more, I was ready to become a Duck.
Going into school, my goal was to learn as much as I could while becoming familiar with the program. With my decision to come to Oregon and pass up the pros, I immediately set my sights on becoming a weekend starter.
I didn’t just want to be looked at as a Freshman.
I wanted to be in the weekend rotation and I was willing to make the sacrifices necessary as soon as I stepped on campus.
Now as a junior, this mentality is how I approach every day and why I have been able to have success. I believe that when you show up ready to grind and are open minded, you pick up on things that others let pass them by. Be ready to learn and adapt, and only you can stop yourself.
With this year, our team has that same mentality. We set high goals, and anything less will not be good enough. The team has one thing in mind, and that is to go to a place no Oregon team has since the program restarted: Omaha.
For me, I just try to keep learning and improving, all while working as hard as possible. No matter the decisions I will have to make in my future, I just want to focus on what I can control: my effort and attitude.
Sometimes we have to wait just a little bit longer than we think to get what we really want, but from my experience at the University of Oregon, it’s worth the wait.
David Peterson | Contributor