Why Menlo was Meant for me
In 2010, I decided to join a college program that was heard of by less than 20% of the nation. Maybe I am exaggerating but still, the college was off the baseball map.
It was not a fancy athletic program but the coaching staff was solid, meaning they cared for us. The staff brought in a ton of incoming freshman to mix with the veterans. I remember sitting in my dorm room as a freshman wondering what I was doing at a small school that was out of my comfort zone, and majority of my friends were partying on large campuses.
It wasn’t just me — my friends John Schott, Mickey Phelps, Sam Shapiro and I talked all the time about what it would be like elsewhere. Menlo was coming off a season where they fell short of the playoffs and had never made a playoff appearance in the history of its program existence. From the outside looking in, Menlo was a pencil in win for teams when they saw us on their schedule. For us, as freshman, we became a close-knit squad.
We had an attitude, a chip on our shoulder and we wanted to win.
We set the school record for wins our first year and fell short in the playoffs. After our freshman year, the thought of transferring began to diminish. We were never the most talented team, but we played for each other. We had some characters and a lot of fun. Probably no character bigger than John Schott.
I remember being in Vancouver and the night before our first game playing the University of British Columbia. John realized our Canadian hotel did not have screens on their hotel Windows. So, from the 5th floor we decided to wait for teammates (even coaches) to exit the hotel only for us to drill them with water balloons.
We were always pulling pranks and making fun of each other. As a group, we were always laughing and thinking of the next joke.
That’s what made us have fun. That’s what made us good.
In my second year, our team ended up winning Menlo’s first-ever conference championship. That team taught me the power of camaraderie. As I reflect on my time as a player, this camaraderie is what I try to bring to every organization I work for, my friends and family. Winning and losing is a by-product, but I firmly believe it doesn’t take talent to work hard and if you are willing to have a lot of fun along the way, regardless of your talent, good things will happen to you…
That’s what happened to that no name college in the Bay Area that won the championship.
I learned a lot from guys along the way. None more than my brother because I had the privilege of being the bat boy for his team growing up. That team had stars like Daniel Descalso, Matt Long, Jared and Josh Lansford, and my brother Kenny. These guys are all still close-knit friends, which shows the power of camaraderie. The team was coached by Oakland A’s legend, Carney Lansford and Bay Area legend, Terry Hardtke. I’ll never forget (Coach) Terry saying to me, “Get off my fuc*@!&g bucket, kid.”
Little moments like this only happen in baseball and I learned in that moment that you never want to interrupt someone’s routine when it’s working for the betterment of the squad.
As I sit here and reflect, it meant a lot to my development for those guys to share their knowledge. I can never pay those guys back, but now it is my turn to give back and help the future of sport.
I look back and think about playing in the moment — looking into the stands and seeing my Mom and Dad who played the biggest role — they went to every single game. My Father was always there to offer advice, in a comfortable manner and Mother was there for support, which was often needed in a game with so much failure.
Baseball brings you to places you’d never otherwise go to. One summer I played in Fort Collins, Colorado, and we played throughout the states of Wyoming and Colorado. I’ll never forget calling my parents after the first two weeks of summer ball. It was without question the worst two weeks of baseball I have ever had giving up over 10 runs in a short span of innings which resulted in two losses. That was a tough time — a time when I started to lose faith, and I seriously considered quitting baseball.
My father reminded me of what we stand for… Never giving up and taking the failure as an opportunity to grow, learn and get better.
Dad was right. I ended that summer strong and it was special. I will never forget about that time.
Sometimes, all you need is extra advice and motivation, which is what my parents were always there for. Anyone that is losing faith, I encourage you to look closely to your network. For me, my parents were and will always be my team.
After that summer, I told myself, you’re ready and you’re here to play college baseball. The next three years were filled with hard work, laughs, and that roar.
Nothing will replace the fans cheers or the silence of a crowd when your team knocks theirs down on the road. I loved the adrenaline rush you can’t experience anywhere else and the proving people wrong — that’s why the no name school called Menlo was meant for me.
Goodbye to baseball — for now — as I am ready for doing what I set out to do, give back and help the future of sport, through PRO-FILE.