The Decision

May 13, 2010
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It was the beginning of Tom’s senior year, and he knew he had a decision to make. The biggest question he had to answer was whether he was going to play college golf or play college baseball. The next question he had to answer was what college he was going to play the sport he chooses. Tom has been offered scholarships to play baseball at East Tennessee State University, University of Tennessee-Martin, Western Kentucky, Memphis, and Wake Forest. He has scholarships to go play golf at Clemson, Southern Methodist University, California at Berkley, East Tennessee State University, Wake Forest, and South Florida. The school he wants to go to most is Wake Forest, but he cannot play both baseball and golf at Wake. He wants to go to a school bigger than East Tennessee State University. The only thing that really intrigues Tom about East Tennessee State University is that he could play both baseball and golf. During Tom’s senior year he takes advice from coaches, parents and friends.

The beginning of the year is golf season. Tom is the number one golfer on the team. His best friend is also a senior on the team and is the number three golfer. He is a member at a local country club where he goes to practice every day when he can. He consistently shoots in the low seventies and shoots under par every now and then.

Tom’s golf coach has been at the school for over twenty five years. He keeps trying to help Tom in his decision. So Tom went to see him.

Tom went to go see his golf coach on the first day of school. “Tom, have you decided yet?” he asked. Tom did not say anything and just kind of stared at the desk. “Should I take that as a no?” Tom just nodded his head. Neither of them said anything for a couple minutes. Then coach asked Tom what was wrong. He said he thought a lot about his decision over the summer. “The more and more I think about it, it just keeps getting harder and harder.” The coach said he could relate. But Tom could not understand so he told him a story.

“When I was in high school I was also a stud athlete in two sports, the same as you, golf and baseball. I also had to make a decision. I wanted to play both sports and I wanted to play at a big school. The only school that would let me play both was Florida Atlantic. I could have played golf or baseball at bigger schools but not both. It was the hardest thing I have had to do my whole life. Do you know what I chose?”

“You went to Alabama to play golf” said Tom.
“Yeah I did.” No one said anything then Tom got up and thanked the coach. “Thanks coach, I know that I can come to you for help with this now.”

Tom ended up having his best golf season yet. He won six of the seven matches and went on to win the state tournament. After Tom had won state he got calls from the head coaches of Wake Forest, East Tennessee State, and Clemson. Wake Forest called and gave him the hard sell on coming. Clemson did the same. East Tennessee State surprised him though. They did not give him the hard sell but they just wanted to talk to him and asked him how things were going. This caught Tom so off guard that he did not know what to say. Coach Reynolds from ETSU was very polite about everything. He did not even talk about Tom possibly attending ETSU until he had to leave. Coach Reynolds seemed to care more about Tom as a person instead of Tom’s skills. This made Tom think about ETSU as a major contender for where he would attend college.

When school got out for winter break it was time for Tom to do some serious thinking. He was hoping his older brother Roland would help him with his decision. His brother is a twenty year old sophomore at Columbia University. He is a double major in economics and political science and is minoring in theatre. After Roland had been home for a couple of days Tom decided to go talk to him.

“Hey, Roland can I talk to you for a minute?” “Yeah little bro, what about?” Tom pauses a second unsure if now is a good time. “Can you help me with my college choices?” Roland looks at him confused as to why he wants his help on picking a school where he will play sports at not for academics. “Yeah” he says after a little pause. “OK, I have narrowed my list down to three schools for each sport. For baseball I have narrowed it down to East Tennessee State, Wake and Western Kentucky. And for golf I have narrowed it down to East Tennessee State, Wake and Clemson. Roland thought about this for a minute then said, “I can only tell you about their academics, but Wake is the best academically. I don’t really know about the other two, sorry.” They stood there in Roland’s room for a minute before their mom walked in. “What are you guys doing?” she asked. To cover up Tom just said, “Nothing, we are just catching up on things.” Their mom believed them and left the room. Then Roland asked, “Why did you lie to her?” Tom gave it to him straight, “I haven’t talked to mom about my decision yet and I don’t want her to know I talked to you about it, so she won’t get upset.

Before Tom knew it was spring and baseball season was here. Tom’s coach was very competitive. His team had won the state tournament the previous year and is the favorite to win this year. Tom is a second baseman and pitcher for the team. When the season came Tom and everybody else was excited to start playing. As the season went on scouts would came to the games and talked to the coach about him. The team lived up to their expectations that year and won the state tournament. After the season Tom went to go talk to Coach Vance in his office.

“Coach?” The coach was not there so Tom went up and looked up at the field. Sure enough Coach Vance was up working on the field. Tom walked up to coach Vance and started talking to him. Coach Vance did not hear Tom coming so when he began to talk he was spooked. Coach said, “O Hey Tom, why are you here?” Then Coach Vance and Tom went back to his office and sat down and talked about his future playing baseball. After talking to Coach Vance Tom realized that his decision will be much harder than he initially thought.

Finally the day came where Tom had to decide. Tom thought long and hard about his decision. He visited the four campuses and talked to his closest friends, family, and coaches. When the day came everybody thought he was going to pick Wake Forest to attend college but they did not know what sport. Tom invited all his friends and family over the day of his decision. He had already thought out how he would do it. He would set out three visors of the three schools he might pick for golf and three baseball hats for the baseball schools. When the time came he went to the table and stood there a second. He then reached both hands out and grabbed the ETSU visor and baseball hat. This stunned everybody. No one had expected this except the one person he had told, Roland. Everybody clapped and then stayed a little while longer and then left. Tom’s father later called him up into his room.

They talked for a minute and when they came down the stairs together Tom’s father understood why he chose ETSU. To this day Tom’s father is the only one who knows. One thing is for sure though Tom knows he made the right choice.

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