Essay 1 Draft 2

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					Logan Burns

WRT 150-23

Essay 1 Draft 2

                                              Underachieved

        All of my life, my summers have been filled with trips to the baseball diamond. I loved

the smell of a leather glove and the freshly cut grass baking in the hot sun. I loved the sight of the

small, white leather ball soaring through the air on a mid-summer day. I loved the chatter from

benches and the one quirky kid who made the strange sounds to distract the opposing players on

the field. But what I loved more was America’s favorite pastime, and the only thing that got me

off the couch during summer break. I loved baseball.

        Since I was five years old, starting off in T-ball, I had always been just a little bit better

than most kids my age. I hit it a little bit farther, ran a little bit faster, and threw a little bit harder.

And during mid-season of Minor Little League, my skill was recognized. I was asked to join the

minor league all-star team and participate in multiple tournaments and districts at the end of the

year. The team consisted of 12 boys around the age of 11, some of whom were even more

talented than I was. As the years passed, the team weathered down to nine central players. I was

one of the lucky nine on the tournament team that would enjoy the years yet to come. We all

went to the same school, were in the same grade, and were full of passion for the game we all

loved. Playing a near 40 games each summer gave each of us a chance to form a bond that will

stick with us for the rest of our lives. I can pick out each guy and tell you things about them that

they probably wouldn’t want you knowing. One of my best friends on the team when I was

younger was the awkward, skinny third baseman. His name was Jake and he was also the coach’s

son. I can remember a number of pool parties at the Jake’s house. Like the one where a boy
named Seth got hit over the head with a noodle/squirt gun combination toy. The soft, noodle part

on the outside broke when it hit him and the plastic part underneath caught him on the side of his

head. A trip to the hospital and several stitched fixed him up and came away with just a scar. The

incident could have been avoided if we could have controlled our need to hit people with pool

toys. But kids will be kids right? What mattered is that we were young and having the time of

our lives.

        As a team, we were superior to just about every opponent we played. Our 8th grade

season in Koufax League, our record was 37 wins and only 3 losses. And with such a dominant

class, sports dads of our high school, coaches, and players started to think. Could one of the best

ever baseball teams to come through Western High School? At the time, we nine kids didn’t talk

too much about it. We were still boys, with a lot of new things happening in our lives. We had to

take life one step at a time. I was a pretty naïve kid during my middle school years. I just went

through the life so quickly, not taking time to really cherish the friendships I had or opportunity

to be on such a good baseball team. But it’s hard for a kid to know things like that at such a

young age. The days flew by and the summers came to an end. It was time for my friends and I

to take on a new challenge.

        When our stellar team reached high school, our hype kept rising. Up to this point, we’ve

developed as much as people hoped we would, and we’re starting to turn into outstanding ball

players. Freshman year was everything we expected. A spectacular 19-1 season, with the one

blemish coming to a team that we destroyed our next time around. Sophomore season was very

good for our experience. Five sophomores, all from our core group, were called up to varsity to

help a struggling squad. That only left a few of us on the junior varsity roster, but didn’t hinder

us too badly, as me and my teammates who were left played our way to a solid 12-8 record.
Three of the sophomores remaining on the JV squad, including myself, got called up to varsity

due to injury near the end of the season. Surprisingly we got playing time! And as scared as my

newly called up teammates and I were to make a mistake, we made use of the opportunity and

filled in nicely for the injured veterans. That year was crucial in helping our developments as

baseball players, as the rest of the nine prepared for the jump from JV ball, to the varsity team.

        Junior year was an outstanding way to show that the nine young kids who played together for

most of their baseball careers, were ready to rumble with the best of them. With seven juniors starting,

the team was incredibly young. However, we played like we had been on this team for years. The team

rolled to a 27-9 record, sweeping the conference 12-0, winning districts, and making an appearance in

the regional finals. We fell three wins short of tying the most wins in season at our school. And the next

year we were determined to break that record. But our goals didn’t stop there. We wanted to make it to

the state tournament and possibly graduate some seniors that go on to play at the college level. Every

single kid expected nothing less and was willing to sacrifice everything to accomplish those goals. The

season came around; everyone was itching to get on to the field we loved so much. But before we could

get back to field there was much work to be done. Pre-season preparation consisted of the

fundamentals. Like hitting, fielding, pitching, and a shit-load of conditioning. “Two-mans” were a special

conditioning drill that every varsity player got to dread for the first two weeks of the season. “It built up

our toughness,” coach told us, “You will work hard starting now, and you will not stop working hard until

the season ends.” The horrific drill that caused players so much agony consisted of pairs of two with one

ball between them. The partners stand across from each other on opposite sides of the basketball court.

We had to practice inside because snow covered up the diamond still. One player starts by throwing the

ball to his partner, then both he and his partner sprinting to the other side of the court. And when I say

sprint I don’t mean the normal definition of sprint. I mean running as fast as you physically can between

the short distance of the sidelines. You proceed with this process for a couple minutes, or however long
the coach feels like torturing you. One hops, grounders, and lunges come after the throwing, with only a

minute break in between. If the coach was displeased with the effort given, the drill would start over.

All the pain and struggle of “hell week”, as it was called, finally came to an end.

        The final season of the nine young friends was about to begin. We started off terrible, not

producing runs like we wanted and giving up more runs than we expected. We struggled against an

average team and split the first double header. In one game we showed signs of excitement and life,

while in the other, we looked sloppy. And that was the way it felt all season. After what was a mediocre

start of about 7-5, I would leave the diamond frustrated and upset after each game. I remember as I sat

with girlfriend in the parking lot after a tough night. I told her about how it made me so angry. I threw

out curse words left and right, wearing my emotion on my sleeve. I hated that the game was proving so

difficult to not just me, but the team as a whole. And why now? Why when we need to bring our best

game can we not breakthrough and overcome that stupid, little baseball? The season got closer and

closer to the end, and nothing we tried as a team seemed to work. We tried playing as hard as we could

and sprinting everywhere on the field. The only thing that did was tire us out. We also tried to just have

fun with it. That didn’t work either. We played too relaxed and made silly mistakes. Our coach didn’t

know where to turn next. His pep talks always started with him trying to get us pumped up for the

game, then violently switched to him yelling at the top of his lungs. It was kind of funny to watch the

small man get so angry, but it was also a little bit frightening. I bet if he wanted to he could have kicked

all of our asses, even though he only stood to the shoulders of some of our players. He turned to “two-

mans” as a way to sort of threaten us. I felt as if the only reason we ran these sprints was because our

coach was so frustrated that he couldn’t figure out why we were underperforming. He had earned his

200th career win that season, so he had seen his fair share of players come through. Usually he had the

answer for struggling teams, but when watched us play he could not pinpoint any reason. We could look

at the stats over and over again and see what the problem was right away. We had less hits than the
other team, had too many errors on the defensive side, and ultimately scored less runs than our

opponent.

        Countless meetings in coach’s classroom and not one kid had a reason as to why the game we

had been playing our whole life was getting harder for us to be successful in. All of our lives, the sport

came so easy to us. Were we pressing too hard now? Were we trying to win the game with one swing of

the bat? We had all kinds of theories, but could never pinpoint which one was causing us so much

trouble. In our first district game, we played a team in our conference that in nine out of 10 games, we

would have crushed them. But that night was the one game that didn’t go our way. We lost 1-0 in our

final game of our high school careers. As I leave the field I remember the look on my dad’s face. He

stared at me and said only one sentence, “That was the most underachieved season I have ever seen.” I

didn’t know whether to get upset or punch him, but all I could say was, “Thanks dad.” He was exactly

right. A season that started with so much energy, ended full of disappointment and shame.

        We circled around on the hill after the last game. We tried to conduct on last meeting as nine

young men fought to hold back tears. We couldn’t believe that everything we worked so hard for had

gone to waste so easily. The circle of ball players could not bring to words the heartbreak that they felt.

They listened for the words of the wise leader known as their coach, but he could not produce any

words worth saying. It was a shock for us all. We hugged each other, and not just the kind of hugs you

give that new girl you just met. These hugs were like hugs that you give to your close relatives when

they’re on their deathbed. It was the last time any of those nine seniors would wear the dirt-stained

uniform that represented our school. We looked like a bunch of crybabies, but we didn’t care. Our lives

took an unexpected turn that left us hurt. The wonders of that season still sit in their minds and will

always be remembered. How could something so bright turn out so depressing? But maybe, in a sense,

that season was destined to be. Nine kids who grew up only knowing winning, now had to experience

losing in a harsh and seemingly unfair way. I think of that year and hope that whatever that taught me,
will stick with me for the rest of my life and be a reminder that things don’t always go the way they were

drawn up. You don’t get anywhere on reputation alone. You may have had many accomplishments in

the past that show how great you are, but none of that matters if you can’t achieve when asked to.

				
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