Today was a really big day for our family.
Joshua started playing baseball at the age of 3 at the YMCA. And it was definitely love at first “swing” for him! Since that first season of tee ball 15 years ago, this game has been his passion. And it has been so much fun to watch him grow as both a player and a person through playing this game.
We’ve learned a lot of lessons along the way. I guess that’s to be expected when baseball is described as “a game of failure.” Even the best hitters to ever play the game fail 70% of the time when they go to the plate. You can do everything right, barrel up a ball and hit it right at a defender who makes a great catch. You can execute your pitch, put it right where you want it, only to have it dribble through the infield for a base hit. So, yeah, we’ve learned some lessons.
At the top of the list, Joshua has learned the importance of hard work. I think his mantra has always been “extra.” Just a few more swings, Dad. A few extra throws. Hit me a few more grounders. This game has taught him the importance of “extra” and the difference it can make. Baseball also teaches you how to deal with adversity. We’ve seen him battle through bases loaded, nobody out, as he learned the lesson of perseverance. He’s learned how to lose — and believe me, our teams have lost plenty. One year, his travel team won ONE game all season. But I wouldn’t trade those days for anything, because they made the winning that much sweeter. He’s learned how to be a good teammate because he’s had so many good teammates model this back to him. He’s learned to be coachable because he’s had so many good coaches love him enough to tell him the truth. And yes, he’s learned how to be a winner, how to carry success and humility hand in hand. He’s learned so much that it’s really a misnomer to call this a “game” — baseball has been his classroom.
And Mom and Dad have learned quite a bit as well. We’ve learned discernment. There are moments when your player needs to know what you’re seeing, so you talk about his swing, the hitch in his pitching mechanics, his fielding technique. And there are other times when he just needs a hug. It’s taken us 15 years, but we’ve finally figured it out. The car ride home after a loss is a time for encouragement (often in the form of a Culver’s cheeseburger) and rarely is it the time for chastising. Maybe the most important lesson we’ve learned: always keep your outdoor propane heater on hand until at least mid-April. And don’t forget those extra green canisters. They’re lifesavers.
And today all the lessons came full circle as Joshua signed to play baseball for Harding University. If the goal was simply “play college baseball,” there were several opportunities for him to explore. But years ago, a wise coach told Joshua not to select a college simply based on the baseball program. “You need to make sure that it’s the school you want to attend. And you need to consider a lot of factors other than baseball.” Thankfully Joshua listened and he made up his mind that Harding was where he wanted to be — wait, there’s a better way to say it. Joshua became convicted that Harding was where God wanted him to be. So he made a wise and God-honoring choice: if baseball is there for me at Harding, great; but even if it’s not, that’s where I’m going.
And I believe God honored this decision by opening the door for Joshua to become a Bison.
So today, as Joshua signed his National Letter of Intent, I saw this as the work of God, affirming the greatest lesson it seems my boy has learned: to trust in the Lord with all of your heart and He will make your path straight. I couldn’t be prouder of you, son. Thank you for the lessons you’ve taught me.
Great choice! Remember our son Greg – He is Dr. Greg Brooks now teaching at ACU with a BA from Harding, a MA in Marriage and Family Theropy and a Phd from Missouri. Leigh just got her CPA and has her MBA from Harding. Harding University has been a blessing to my kids, hope you can say the same! God Bless, Carlin
Such a beautiful tribute to Joshua. So happy he has seen his dream come full circle. We will keep him in our prayers in the years to come. God bless!
What a beautiful tribute to Joshua! So proud of his decision!