I’ll start with a little story.
This guy’s walking down the street when he falls in a hole. The walls are so steep he can’t get out. A doctor passes by and the guy shouts up, ‘Hey you. Can you help me out?’ The doctor writes a prescription, throws it down in the hole and moves on. Then a priest comes along and the guy shouts up, ‘Father, I’m down in this hole can you help me out?’ The priest writes out a prayer, throws it down in the hole and moves on. Then a friend walks by, ‘Hey, Joe, it’s me can you help me out?’ And the friend jumps in the hole. Our guy says, ‘Are you stupid? Now we’re both down here.’ The friend says, ‘Yeah, but I’ve been down here before and I know the way out.’
Throughout my four years of baseball here at EMU I have fallen in a lot of holes. We have had a combined record of 46 wins, 87 losses, and 1 tie. Every year, through every workout and every practice I told myself that next year would be different. Next year we make ODACs, or next year we have a winning record, next year I’ll get more playing time. But every year it seemed the walls in my hole were too steep to get out. Every year I was consumed by the fact that my experience was not living up to the idea of college baseball that I had, or the experience my friends were getting at other universities. I sometimes forgot what it felt like to win or to actually play. Sometimes my optimistic outlook became cynical and distorted because losing isn’t fun. And honestly, playing here for four years was the hardest and most physically, mentally, and spiritually challenging part of my EMU experience.
However, I have learned something that has transcended the game we play and taught me lessons about life that I hold sacred. Through it all, I always had a couple people down there in that hole with me. A couple people who would jump in and experience it with me, and show me the way through. And so tonight, I also want to thank all those people who jumped into the hole with me, and showed me the way through.
I have learned from my athletic experience at EMU, a lesson that I cherish more than anything else. I have learned a lesson I would have not chosen to learn on my own, because it was painful. Through the ups and downs, the wins and losses, I have had to rely on God as my source of hope and strength when I am weak, discouraged, or overwhelmed. Apostle Paul says it best in 2 Corinthians 12:8-9, “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
My athletic experience was not all glitter and gold. But, I love it because of the relationships and lessons I have learned along the way. I have learned that life and baseball are similar, in that they don’t build character, but they reveal it.