COVID-19 was this sudden virus that spread rapidly throughout the whole world and caused everything to come to a halt, including sports. Sports are my livelihood. It feels wrong if I’m not playing sports, and when the pandemic hit and there were no sports to play, I constantly felt wrong. A season without sports for me was one of the worst things that could have ever happened to me. But at the same time, it was one of the best things that could have ever happened to me. Let me tell you why.
To be completely honest, baseball is not my main sport. I’m nowhere near the best player on the field, but I love the fun and friendships that are created through playing the sport. The night games in the cold that you almost cry about during the game but laugh about the next day. The crazy ESPN-highlight level plays that your teammates make. The petty coach and teammate drama that is bound to happen every single season. The drama about who’s going to start and the anxiousness that comes from wanting to get that extra rep in practice. These beautiful experiences are the things that make baseball so enjoyable for me. I may talk a lot of trash, but to be completely honest, 50% of the team is better than me. But, because of me not being the best, the competitive atmosphere on our team has led to me grinding when nobody’s looking to improve my game.
During preseason workouts, the only thing that was really on my mind was being the one person who was the first one to get to practice and the last one to leave. When I first showed up to a preseason workout during my 7th grade year, I was the only person there with Coach on multiple occasions, which honestly fed my hunger to be better because I always feel like I can do better if I put more effort into something. I wanted to continuously put in the extra effort to be the one person that would have their number called no matter what.
I craved being the best person on my team because that’s what I’m used to. I always find that I push myself a lot because things usually come easily to me. Easy to the point where I don’t usually have to do extra work to be good at something. For baseball, though, it’s different and I appreciate the fact that I wasn’t the best because I learned a lot and ended up creating some now very important friendships because of the extra work.
When the pandemic hit, the fact that the continuous work that I had been constantly putting in just stopped felt bizarre. It had been a joke between the team that somebody needed to take one for the team and catch COVID so our school could shut down. We were thinking we would get a free week off of school, not knowing that week we wanted would soon turn into a full year of no baseball.
My body isn’t used to just sitting around the house not moving, so quarantine was hard for me because there was only so much that could be done within a house. I ended up falling into a depressed state of mind and was struggling to find motivation for pretty much anything at all. It felt like my world as a whole was just all over, and I was trying to find a reason to still be alive at that point.
My questions were all answered when my dad randomly asked me if I wanted to go play golf and I, being bored anyway, said yes. The first time I went, I beat him, my uncle, my cousin, and my brother, and I absolutely loved playing. Throughout the match, I would do certain things accidentally, but they would make my shot better. I would make these super long, amazing putts, even though the only time I had ever putted before that was playing mini golf. It was at this point that I finally found the one sport I can fully commit to. I felt like it was the perfect balance between enough difficulty that I had to keep working but enough natural skill that I was still one of the best.
I knew from then on that I would do anything it takes to go D1. I would do whatever I have to do to be a professional golfer. I would do whatever is needed to be the best. Because I had developed my work ethic playing baseball, it’s not hard for me to wake up early to work out to strengthen my swing or stay late to make those extra putts. I know if I keep this work up, I can and will be the best.
Raymond Johnson – Lindblom – Class of 2025