May 9, 2018
Erick Mojica – B.S Kinesiology
Being a year removed from my last game as a college baseball player I have to say that it finally hit me… I am no longer a baseball player.
A delayed reaction for sure, the emotions of retiring from the game that I’ve played my entire life hit me this past Sunday when Avila got knocked out of the Heart of America Conference Tournament. I want to congratulate Coach Cronk and the entire 2018 team on having a great season. For the Seniors, this blog post is for you!
So I made the trip down to Springfield, MO for the opener of the Conference Tournament last week and I must say that my emotions were 100 times more apparent than when I was playing as I watched my old teammates play throughout the week. Watching the rest of the tournament from my home, I was panicking at every clutch situation that occurred. From the late inning comebacks to the bases loaded jams, the boys played their hearts out and had an incredible run.
If you remember a previous post (My Last Game) where I talked about my lack of emotions when we played our last game last year, it was a complete 180 being on the other side of the field. This was a confusing moment in my life at the time of my last game because I was emotionally drained from everything that I had been through in my career. Throughout that season, there were a lot of ups and downs for us as a team so when it ended it was nothing much but a shock with reality.
A year removed from the game and watching my old teammates play, it was a different feeling. I found myself in tears when their season ended, for a variety of reasons but more so because of what I knew the seniors were about to go through. I couldn’t help but ask myself why I was so hurt in comparison than when it happened to me.
Well for one I have a brotherhood with these guys and watched as many games as I could throughout their season. Even though I’ve missed playing the game, I was actually able to appreciate and enjoy watching my old teammates play the game from the stands. When the playoffs came about, I suddenly felt like I was part of something greater again.
When your career is over, you miss the game but what you miss the most is the experience of being surrounded by your brothers on an everyday basis. While a part of you misses being a part of the action, what really gets you is the thought that you will never get to experience the feeling of being a part of something greater.
Coach Cronk says it every year when it all ends but it holds the most truth of all… “The reason why it hurts so much is because you gave it so much.” Yeah a loss and getting eliminated is a heart breaker, but for some they don’t get another shot at redemption.
To all you seniors out there, just know that everything will be okay. Some of you might get a shot to play at the next level and if you don’t there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. This tunnel has variety of avenues that you can take and many of them allow you to still be a part of the game. If you feel sad an empty for a while, it is completely normal.
We as ballplayers have established an identity throughout our lives and whether or not we get to put on our spikes again we will always be ballplayers. It may take a few days, maybe even weeks to accept this new reality… but everything will be okay.
I must say that I was pretty content with my new lifestyle as a non-athlete, but when I watched you guys in the tournament, you made me miss the game. Maybe it’s because I’m addicted to the feeling of a heartbreak ending to a season. Perhaps I enjoy the idea of failing and competing day in and day out. While I have missed playing the game, what I missed the most was the struggle.
Now it is time for you to find a new struggle, one that you can appreciate close to if not as much as it was when you were playing. This game has given us immense feelings of immortality as it has also brought us down to our lowest of our lows. If you feel sad and want to cry, it’s okay because I cried Sunday too.
Yeah I cried so what? 😆
Just remember that if you feel this way, you shouldn’t frown because it is over, but smile because it happened. You all had amazing careers and made life-long memories that are forever engraved in your heart. Take some time to reflect on not only the good times but also the bad… because when you miss the game you will always wish to have back even your worst day when you were a player.
Good luck to all the Seniors out there on your next journey in life. For the rest of you guys who still have some career left, your time will come sooner than you can imagine. Appreciate the good days and the bad, because one day you will be in these shoes too. Play your hearts out and leave it all out on the field. If you do as such, you will always be able to use those memories to feel like a kid again, even when you can’t be on the field.