Be where your feet are. I am not really sure where I heard that the first time. I know it was before going to the college world series and it was long before I was recruited out of the Dominican Republic to play Division 1 baseball for Texas Christian University. I just know, as soon as I adopted it to my life, things started clicking.
I was born in Miami and spent half of my life there before my family moved back to the Dominican Republic, because my dad, Rafael Landestoy, took an opportunity with the New York Mets’ to head their development program.
I remember in 10th grade how concerned I was with my recruiting future in baseball because schools in the Dominican Republic don’t have baseball teams or fields. So, I asked my mother if they could send me back to Miami to live with my brother, Alex. My mom who can move mountains with her faith responded “Michael, God is not going to take away any of your blessings because we made the decision to move to the Dominican Republic to keep the family together. As long as you do everything right, you will get into the right college and play baseball”.
I’ve been around baseball my whole life because of my dad, an ex-major league baseball player. During the summers, I played three straight months of baseball and it felt like there was never a moment without a glove in my hand. I even remember when I was 3 years old, my mom was pregnant with my little brother, going to the backyard with her so she could pitch to me just a little more practice.
I eventually had a chance to sign to be part of a professional baseball academy in the Dominican Republic, but ultimately a four-year education was more important to my parents. At the time, I didn’t understand this because I just wanted to play baseball. I was looking ahead to my future, but when I look at it now, being a student-athlete was the best decision of my life.
At my high school, Saint George School, I took my studies seriously. I was an IB diploma student with honors so I only had time for school, baseball practice, and homework. Being a teacher’s kid wasn’t easy. When my mom became the principal of my high school, I felt as if I was constantly under a microscope. Not only did my actions have an effect on me, but how people could view my mother. I quickly learned how to handle myself with my peers and the teachers so I could positively represent myself, and my mom.
When I was in 11th grade, TCU was on a mission’s trip and visited the New York Mets Academy in the Dominican Republic. They ended up playing against one of the Mets’ prospect teams that I was on, which was incredible. It was one of the biggest moments of my playing career, but I had been preparing for it. I got a hit off of one of their pitchers and I had the opportunity to interact with their team. It was my first time seeing a college team in person and it made a deep impression on me.
During my Senior year, after being recruited by multiple colleges, I had the opportunity to attend camp at TCU before making a final decision. I got on campus and had the opportunity to speak to Coach Schlossnagle. He really made me feel welcomed and I knew then that I wanted to be part of his team and that he could play a major role in continuing to form the character needed to be successful in baseball and especially in life.
Once I got to TCU, I realized that my skills weren’t at the same level as my teammates. Especially since I was coming from the D.R., I lacked the playing experience of everyone else. I had the talent and the work ethic to be there, but I knew I had to work harder to become an asset for the team. My coach pulled me aside and told me to get into the weight room during my redshirt year. He said, one day if I put everything into improving on a daily basis I was going to be a superstar at TCU. During the next year, I developed close relationships with TCU’s strength and conditioning coach, Zach Dechant, and team nutritionist, Amy Goodson. I became stronger physically, but perhaps more importantly, through a lot of patience, I became mentally stronger as well.
My daily work ethic improved and I fell in love with the process of getting better daily. I was constantly watching and learning. I wanted to know what my teammates were thinking and why they were doing the things they did. I would pick a player and go through the at-bat with him. I wanted to get my timing right and to get my body loose. I wanted to be 100% ready to come off the bench and prove myself to my coaches and my teammates.
The competitive edge I am known for now, was earned through my redshirt year. If it wasn’t for listening to the advice from my former captains and following Coach Dechant’s guidelines, I wouldn’t be in the position I am today.
It doesn’t matter if I am on the bench, starting in a college world series game, studying for a major exam, hydrating, resting, or simply spending time with my family and friends; whatever I am doing at that moment is the most important thing to me. That is how I live my life. Being where your feet are is more than just being in the moment. It has to do with taking advantage of the moment and using every opportunity that comes your way. When you want to look to the next game, the next season, or the next move in life, just remember where your feet are.
This summer, I am playing for the Sanford Mainers in the New England Collegiate Baseball League. The summer ball experience has been very productive and it has allowed me to grow as a player. Today, being a Sanford Mainer is what is most important to me right now. It might be a different story next spring in Omaha, but right now, I am where my feet are.
Michael Landestoy | Contributor