War Eagle has been a part of my vocabulary since I was learning to walk. Supposedly it came somewhere between “Mom” and “Baseball”, but you know, things can be a little fuzzy at that age.
But the one thing I do know is, there’s really nothing better than growing up an Auburn fan.
Born and raised in Springville, Alabama, the choice for where I wanted to go to school was pretty easy. I always hoped to have the opportunity to play at the next level, so when my first offer came in from Auburn, the decision was pretty quick.
It wasn’t long before I was trying to find my new dorm room on campus.
As I started to get to work with the team that Fall, I learned that my role would be a little different than what I was used to. Coming from high school, where I was one of our main starters, now I was being asked to fill in the gaps and pitch when the team needed me.
Sometimes I was getting the start on Sunday, other days I was used coming in as relief.
I never really knew.
But whatever the team asked me to do, I looked at it as a learning experience and put all my effort into it. Patiently waiting to hear my name called, I just wanted to get on the field.
And honestly, I think that’s actually what allowed me to have some success during my freshman year.
Instead of being stubborn and upset about not being a starter in the rotation, I was just honest with myself and realized how great the opportunity was to have any playing time at all.
Playing as a freshman in the SEC is something not everyone gets to do, so I wasn’t going to waste my opportunity or worry about other people. All I could control was my effort and mindset.
Now with pride out of the way, all I had to do was focus on getting better.
With each opportunity, whether it was a start or throwing a few innings in relief, I learned to analyze each performance instead of worrying when exactly it was or when my next one would be.
By being honest with myself, I could focus on what went wrong, and where I could improve.
And even though I’ve taken on new roles as my career has progressed, I’ve tried to keep this same mentality.
Now as one of our starters, there is now even more importance that I can break down each performance with an honest view of how things went.
Yes, I may have a little more success than I did that first year, but there is always something I can take a look at and improve on.
Whatever it will take to put our team in a better position.
And most recently, I’ve been using this to stay in the game when I’m not on the field as well.
Being a starting pitcher, it’s sometimes hard to just sit and watch, while I’d do anything to be out on the field helping the team. But just as I can take an honest look at my game after an outing, I’ve been trying to pick up anything that can help our guys while I’m on my games off.
From a pitch the other guy is throwing to something about a hitter, I just want to help put our guys in the position to win each series.
Because at the end of the day, we all just want to bring glory to our fan base, and keep up with the tradition of winning.
So if you’re trying to find a spot on a new team or looking to fill one of the roles on a starting rotation, just remember, you either win or you learn.
With every experience and opportunity, do whatever you can to use it as a way to get better.