I gazed down at the bottom of the pool and focused on my stroke. As I came up for air, I could see my coach waving her arms in a frantic manner, gesturing for me to speed up my pace. It was my meet last of the season, and I could feel the eyes of coaches and spectators on the pool. Swimming the 500m is a long, and daunting 20-lap race—a test of mental fortitude and physical endurance—especially for an inexperienced competitive swimmer such as myself. As I kicked off the wall for my last lap, I found myself in second place just behind the leading swimmer. Instinctively, my competitive nature kicked in and I attempted to swim as fast as I thought humanly possible. Feeling as if I was just splashing and flopping around in the water, I had little doubt in my mind that I had lost my heat’s race as I touched the wall. But to my surprise, I had been the first to the wall; I had somehow won. As I came out of the water I found myself laughing; I thought to myself, “What am I doing here? I’m not even a swimmer.”
For seventeen years of my life, baseball had been the backbone in my athletic endeavors; I lived for the game, practicing daily and spending my weekends at tournaments, double-headers, and around the diamond. I played for local travel ball teams, went to hitting and pitching gurus, and played year round ball. Baseball was a part of my identity—it fueled my thirst for competition and gave me a sense of purpose. But as I grew up, I began to realize that other things were taking precedent over my love of baseball. It was difficult for me to cope with the idea of not playing baseball and I came to the decision to stop right before my varsity year. But I made the decision to quit due to the fact that I wanted to better prepare myself for the new career path I had set for myself, the path towards becoming a Navy SEAL.
It was coming to this revelation that I wanted to jump out of planes and put my life on the line for my country where I decided to reevaluate my decisions as an athlete. Instead of playing football and baseball I decided to run cross-country and swim, and instead of training loosely at home I dedicated my free time to working out at a local CrossFit gym. I knew that if I was to succeed down the road and endure the toughest military training in the world I had to build a strong foundation so that I would be better prepared for the physical challenges that lay ahead of me. Quitting baseball and adjusting my lifestyle was not only tough on me physically, but also mentally; I struggled watching my friends and former teammates take the field without me and the word “quitter” floated around in my mind. But while I miss the game dearly, making this sacrifice has helped me mature and grow as a young adult and allowed me to realize that nothing in life is a given, it is up to you to push for your goals and set yourself up for ultimate success.