“If you don’t like it, get better.” – Anonymous Internet Message Board Poster
On May 5th, 2006, I was 17 games into my inaugural varsity coaching season. Our record to that point was 6-10-1 (that’s right, we had a tie in there) and it goes without saying that things weren’t going as planned. Our opponent that day was an exceptionally good ball club and featured a pitcher who would go on to pitch at Xavier University…and, of course, he was on the hill that day. If you were to look this game up on the KHSAA Riherds.com Scoreboard, you would thankfully see no score listed for that contest (our opponent was kindly enough to not report the score, saving us the embarrassment in print.) The mighty Juggernauts got pounded that day to the tune of 25 to nil. That division 1 prospect pitched a complete game no-hitter and, to add insult to injury, hit a grand slam that’s likely still orbiting.
A new coach at 25 years old, frustrated and directionless, I made the mistake of looking at a website that covers Kentucky high school athletics and reading the comments about the game. It enraged me. Stupidly, I took a sore loser mentality and posted comments accusing them of running up the score and purposely allowing an overpowering pitcher to unnecessarily throw a complete game when we were obviously overmatched. And then I got a response: “If you don’t you don’t like it, get better.” I was floored. Furious. Incredulous. Name an adjective for angry, and I embodied it. How dare someone throw that in my face?
I carried that comment around in my brain for weeks, and it made me feel the same way each time. But, over time, I realized something. This anonymous internet commenter was 100% right. I didn’t like it, but instead of trying to correct it, I chose to let it affect me mentally and in the way I coached. There are obvious lessons inherent in winning, but some of the greatest lessons often come from losses.
I still carry this comment with me, and I use it regularly. Not just as motivation, but as a truth. You have choices when things don’t go the way you expected; close up shop and call it quits, or figure out a way to never let it happen again.
We took more lumps that season (3 of them to my @short_hOPT counterpart, Mr. Welte) and that feeling and message left an indelible mark on me, my approach to coaching, and my general approach to life. It hasn’t necessarily won me an abundance of baseball games, but it has lead me to a better understanding of what it takes to motivate myself and others on and off the baseball field.
Let it motivate you. And, if you don’t like it, get better.
Have an awesome Monday,