Balance Through Baseball This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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As I walked into the seventh floor hospital room, I didn't know what to expect. My mom was recovering from surgery on her colon. She lay semi-conscious, her pale face matching the stark white sheets. Mounds of gauze covered the staples on her stomach.

My sister, brother, and I visited just briefly since she was not very responsive. I felt relieved leaving the room, knowing that my mother would be fine and that our lives would soon return to normal.

However, on the car ride home, my dad turned down the Cubs game on the radio and cleared his throat.

“Guys, this is hard to tell you, but the doctors found a cancerous tumor during the surgery. They're pretty sure they removed all of it, but it's going to be a tough road ahead. Your lives won't be the same for a while.”

I did not know how to react to a word as strange as cancer. As a seventh-grader, I knew about the destructive power of cancer, but those cases seemed foreign. I had never imagined these misfortunes would affect me.

I remember lying in my bed crying later that week, worried that my life would never again be normal. I was supposed to play a baseball game, but I protested, muttering that a silly game would not be worth my time. My dad dragged me there anyway, saying it would take my mind off things. He could not have been more right.

Once I laced up my spikes and stepped onto the infield, my mind could only focus on the game. There is something unique, almost inexplicable, that happens when you step onto a baseball field. All previous qualms, injustices, and worries are alleviated by the all-consuming nature of the game. The total concentration of mind and body necessary to play the sport allows for no other thoughts. Baseball frees me from the concerns of everyday life.

Since then, baseball has become one of my most passionate outlets. The best part about being a student-athlete is having the ability to be a totally different person on the field. My class load often requires late nights of studying, yet stepping on the playing field re-energizes me. I forget about the rough test that day, a frustrating social problem, or even my worries about having two parents with cancer (last spring my dad was diagnosed with early-stage kidney cancer).

Through baseball, I achieve balance in my life and have been able to keep my struggles in perspective. No triumph or tragedy in sports or my life is too extreme; I can handle whatever is thrown my way.

Although I did not contribute much to the team's efforts on the field last year because I did not get much playing time, I still learned great lessons about humility and teamwork while sitting on the bench. Every player – from the star who receives college scholarships to the last player on the roster – has a role. The harder each individual works, the better the whole team becomes.

Even though I knew I would not get another chance to pitch in a game that season after blowing a five-run lead in my first relief appearance, I still vowed to work hard preparing for next year. Instead of blaming the coach for not playing me or having a bad attitude and quitting, I decided to continue playing because I have truly enjoyed the game the past 13 years and could not see that love come to an abrupt end.

Baseball has been a large part of my life since I was five and on a T-ball team. I have made many lasting bonds with teammates and coaches. The relaxed yet exciting atmosphere that surrounds the baseball diamond provides the ideal setting to get to know others.

I look forward to my senior season with a bittersweet feeling, since it may be the last time I get to take the field. However, I will look back fondly, confident that I enjoyed the time I spent playing baseball and learning many valuable lessons.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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CarsonGooch said...
Dec. 9, 2009 at 10:42 am
This was excellent! I liked how instead of focosing on your mother's cancer you wanted to find a passion to keep your mind off of it.
 
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