Do you have what it takes to be great? Before you answer, let me tell you a story. This story begins about 3 years ago when I started a high school tournament team with players that trained at the K-Zone that summer. There was a player on that team that had some raw ability but very little talent. He could throw the ball 74-75mph but had no idea where it would go. He could hit it 72mph or so, but didn’t connect very often and rarely hit it that hard when he did. That player was Damian Henderson.
He was just coming back into the game after stepping away from it at a young age due to a bad experience he had. He was ready to give it another go. We had 14 players on the team that year and this player was one of the youngest and was clearly the worst of the bunch. This fact never phased him. He always brought a lot of energy to his training, practices and games.
He didn’t play much that season and when he did it wasn’t pretty. It was difficult for his parents to watch him struggle. However, he and they were in it for the long haul. Damian was determined to be great and his parents were ready to support him in that pursuit.
If you saw him play today, you might say something like, “that kid’s a natural”, or “he’s gifted”. He looks nothing like the player he was 3 years ago except for the infectious smile. He now hurls the baseball 96mph (91mph off the bump) and slugs it over 97mph. He outperforms each and every player he played with on that team from 3 years ago and some of them are playing college baseball.
He now has Division 1 college programs coming to watch him play. He didn’t get here by accident. Just this past weekend, Damian was in the parking lot in the early morning waiting for me to arrive and unlock the doors. 12 hours later, after his 2.5 workout, 2 hour team practice and several hours volunteering his time to help the younger players, he was at it again. “Coach, would it be okay if I stayed and hit some more?”
Some of you may know Damian and some of you may know that we have a hitting simulator at the K-Zone. Well, Damian has hit the ball out of all 16 major league parks we have, scaled down to high school size. He decided it’s time to try to hit it out on the Major League sized field. So, this past Saturday night he began his quest. Not only did he hit his first big league homer that night, he called how many pitches it would take him to do it, four. I’m happy to say I was there to see it happen. I didn’t, however, stay for the whole session. Damian outlasted even me that night...
Greatness, you see, is not bestowed upon the lucky few, it is not something you are born with...it is earned.