Senior Season Reflections

Joshua’s high school baseball career came to an end over the weekend. With graduation three weeks away, I was already in a reflective mood. But the end of this Senior season has me thinking about all the great things this game has given to my son.

Baseball has been Joshua’s unquestioned passion since his earliest days. His first word was “Dada” but it wasn’t long before he learned to say “ball” — and that immediately became his favorite word. I can still remember the jolt of joy that raced through me the first time he picked up a ball with his left hand and tossed it to me. I lost track of how many guests to our home were met with a ball of some kind flying toward their head in those early years. Give a boy a ball and you’re bound to suffer some broken glass and broken bones along the way. (Or in my case, a broken nose.) But keep putting that ball in his hand and it will also become one of the most important teachers he’ll ever have.

And from his earliest days, it was Joshua’s dream to represent Madison Academy on the baseball field. On the mornings I would take him to pre-K, we’d drive my truck the long way around campus to pass the baseball field and he would stare out the window with a look of wide-eyed wonder. In elementary school, his dream grew a bit more when one of our school administrators pointed to the mound and said, “I can’t wait to see you on that mound one day, Joshua.” And the dream became reality these last few years — middle school, JV, and varsity — and it’s been such a joy to watch him play the game he loves. For the school he loves. With teammates he loves.

These two pictures are from his last game on the mound for the Mustangs — and they capture the way I will always remember his high school days. First, as an absolute bulldog, a fiery competitor who never gave in. On days when he would pitch, he carried a ball around to all of his classes, keeping it in his hand as much as possible to maintain his feel. A dad once said to me, “It’s like Josh grows three inches whenever he’s on the mound.” And I know what he means. He always played with passion, especially when he pitched. That meant he occasionally incurred the wrath of the opposing team, but his teammates loved him. And that’s what I love about this second picture: his pure joy in celebrating the success of his teammates. After his catcher hit a go-ahead homer in Friday night’s playoff game, he’s right there in the scrum, sharing in the raw delight of the moment with his teammates. #32 has been a great leader and a great teammate — and I couldn’t be more proud of him.

This game is hard. As the saying goes, “Baseball is a game of failure.” Even Hall of Famers fail to get a hit 70% of the time. But these challenges also make this game great — and it does the same thing to the boys who play it. It makes them greater than they would have been otherwise. The painful moments have been pretty difficult — crushing at times — but they’ve also formed character that extends far beyond the diamond. And I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

Joshua has given a lot to this game, but the game has given him so much more in return: great teammates, amazing coaches, opportunities to grow, opportunities to lead. And it’s given me so many memories that I will always cherish.

Well done, #32. You always make me proud.

This entry was posted in Baseball, Family, Kids, Parenting, Sports. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Senior Season Reflections

  1. Kim says:

    This brings tears of joy to my eyes – for Joshua….. but also memories of my #11 who was so much like him!

  2. Cindy Rieder says:

    Beautiful, inspiring words, Jason. Words every parent can remember when their athlete ends a high school career. It’s a bittersweet time, for sure. The character built in them and tge memories given to us will last a lifetime. May God bless Joshua in his next chapter at Harding. πŸ‘πŸ‘Œβ€οΈβšΎοΈπŸ™πŸ»

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