“I once asked an old man, ‘What does it take to become great at something in this world?’ He stared at me and said, ‘To the great pains you must go; a lustful search in the dark is all you’ll ever come to know.’
— The Artist and The Olympian
This chapter of my life is titled “In Pursuit Of Excellence.” It’s funny, but this just came to me right now as I am sitting here writing – I lost my mojo a long while ago. I lost that supreme confidence in what I was doing. I know exactly when this happened as well.
I lost a massive amount of confidence in myself when my elbow fell apart my senior year of high school. Somewhere deep inside of my I knew that things would never be the same. When you start to have structural problems in your arm as a pitcher, it just never comes back the same as it did before. God I was so confident before all of that happened. I would walk out onto the mound with this vigor and excitement. I had prepared for the entire year before this season and I was ready to face off with the best of the best. And I did – and I won. Then, all of my momentum was crushed. My dreams of pitching down south were obliterated. My future became quite uncertain and the goal I had been working towards since I was 5 years old became a big question mark.
I built and raked those pitching mounds for other players and tried to help them out as much as possible. I tried to be a good teammate. But in all honesty, I hated every minute of not being on the field competing. I hated watching other players pitch in my spot in the rotation. I hated watching my team lose games I know I could have helped them win. I hated my arm. I hated my life for this happening when everything seemed to be turning towards something more positive.
Baseball was life for me. Even when I got into college ball I didn’t have my confidence. It was gone. I threw scared. I was scared. I was scared that my arm was going to continue to fall apart even after a surgery – and it did. My worst nightmare came true. I walked into my coaches office and told him I had to hang up the cleats because my body couldn’t do it anymore.
The day I quit baseball was hands down one of the worst days of my life.
Even writing that brings tears to my eyes. I miss the sport. I miss playing the game I fell in love with so much. I miss walking out onto the mound and having that air about me. My dream fell to pieces and I had to let it go because no one could figure out what was wrong with my elbow. But I realize that even through all of this, I lost my confidence. I lost the confidence in myself and being able to follow through on my dreams.
Sounds pretty weird for me to be saying this because I know I have accomplished a lot over the past few years – but in the same breath – I know that I am not on the level I used to be. When I walked out on the mound there was no way you were going to beat me. There was no doubt in my mind and I was going to do everything in my power to ensure that positive end result. No obstacle. No hitter. No bad call was going to stop me. I would continue pounding away at the strike zone with merciless intent and I knew if I brought everything I could bring we would win.
I lost it.
I lost that belief in hard work. I lost that edge. I lost a huge piece of myself when my elbow went “pop.”
And I am going to get it back. I am going to get it back because that level I was at, that was the real deal for me. I was at my best. I was in the moment and I was determined beyond belief. I want it back and I am going to go find it again. Somewhere, deep within me it sits. But like the quote said about – to find that greatness you must be familiar with the great pains and darkness. There is no doubt that somewhere deep down within the caves of my heart this confidence sits. It’s there – it never went away. But I want to be able to call on it again. I want to take it and bring myself to places I could never have possibly imagined.
I am going for it.
– Evan Sanders