Thank You, Jim Edmonds, For Being My Role Model

Thank You, Jim Edmonds, For Being My Role Model

An Ode To The Greatest Center-Fielder That Ever Lived

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Imagine you're a parent and grew up living and breathing sports. You go to all the games for your city, support all the local professional teams, and can't get enough of it until you have your firstborn son and you get a chance to pass that passion onto him. So you enroll him in a CYC (Catholic Youth Council) soccer program and go to his first game.

You watch in awe as your six-year-old prodigy, the second coming of Cristiano Ronaldo, starts making dirt castles away from the play.

That was me. I was that kid. When I first started playing sports, my dad told me I would be running around with my arms out making airplane noises while the other kids were chasing the ball.

Which was strange, to him, because I'd sit on his lap and watch any sports with him all day long, whether it was the Rams for football, the Blues for hockey, or the beloved St. Louis Cardinals, who at the time, were absolutely dominating the league with postseason appearance after postseason appearance.

Around the age of 7 or 8, the flip switched. I went from chasing butterflies on the soccer field to chasing hat tricks and, my dad, seeing the potential for athletic growth, signed me up to play baseball too.

The transition for me was fairly easy given all the running I had been doing in soccer and the number of my times my dad and I would play catch in the backyard after watching another Cardinals win. I knew the game well and knew that I wanted to be a center-fielder, just like my favorite player, Jim Edmonds.

So at that time in CYC baseball, kids weren't expected to be good. They did the whole charade of letting everyone bat, the outs don't really matter and the records didn't either, that sort of thing.

Unfortunately, my childhood best friend and I didn't get that memo.

I remember making diving catches at shortstop, throwing to first base with plenty of time to get the runner, and the fans cheering, surprised by a two-foot toddler actually being able to make a play.

So my friend's dad started a select team the next year, and I found my home in the outfield. I loved running down balls and getting that same surprised reaction from fans and even players who were sure they hit a ball that would drop easily.

I didn't care as much about batting, but that feeling of "yeah, I caught that" was absolutely addicting. I would still go home and play catch with my dad, but if he made the catches too easy for me, I'd tell him to lead me more, until we'd be out there for an hour and a half just working on tracking hard to catch balls at full speed and I'd come inside to deal with the wrath of my mother about the grass stains on my clothes.

I'd go to my uncle's house, who had a desktop computer AND color printer, and he'd let us print out any pictures we wanted off the internet. So I looked up the coolest picture I could think of; Jim Edmonds picking a home run with his backhand just centimeters before it touched down, printed it, framed it, and hung it on my wall.

As I got older, in select ball you got to pick your numbers every year, so I always picked #15. Our team got to walk on the field at Busch Stadium and I kept trying to dig my shoes into the wall to see if I could reach to rob one, I made my first email and made my username twelcher15. Along with playing catch with my dad, I'd go with my neighbors to the common ground in our subdivision and play whiffle ball and every time I went yard, I'd drop my bat and extend both arms over my head as my role model did in the '04 NLCS.

But there's one experience that really stands out.

It was a night game, in between games of a doubleheader, and the field we were going to playing our next game on was absolutely saturated. Our coach could not believe it wasn't canceled, but we were young enough, we didn't care we just wanted to play.

So after my mom got me a Gatorade and a hot dog, I came back and asked one of my teammates if they'd play catch with me for a bit and they said sure. 10 minutes later, I was laying out for balls, getting absolutely soaked with water and caked in mud, without a care in the world. After a while, my teammates joined me in the outfield while one of our buddies launched balls into the atmosphere with only one rule, the catch would only count if you dove to get there.

We called the game "Jimmy Edmonds" and I'll never forget that day or what that game's namesake meant to the development of my love for baseball and sports as a whole.

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7 Quotes All Athletes Should Know

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Being an athlete requires a tremendous amount of training, dedication and commitment. Sometimes it may not seem worth it due to the countless hours of practice or the pain and suffering of conditioning, but other times there's nothing you would rather be doing than playing the sport you love. Here is a list of 7 inspirational quotes all athletes should live by and always remember.

1."Even when you've played the game of your life, it's the feeling of teamwork that you'll remember. You'll forget the plays, the shots, and the scores, but you'll never forget your teammates."

Athletes should never take their teammates for granted, no matter how much you may get on each others nerves or how often you all need a break from each other. At times it may seem like all you guys do is argue, but its really because over the course of a season your teammates become like family, and sometimes families fight. Yes, there will also be those big plays or games that will be stuck in your mind forever, but looking back years and years from now it will be the memories you created with your team that you won't ever forget. The hotel sleepovers during tournaments, team bonding after school and even those games that get rained out half way through and everyone scrambled into one of the mom's cars are memories you won't ever forget because you were with your team. Teamwork is the ultimate path to success, and is one of those incredible and irreplaceable feelings you won't ever lose.

2. "When you feel like quitting, remember why you started."

Throughout all the commitment, strength and conditioning training, and what seems like countless hours of practice it may just seem easier at times to quit. But think about what would happen if you really chose to stop playing the sport you love. Remember why you started to play in the first place; remember your dreams and your goals and how amazing it feels to be out on that field or court doing what you you know best. Being an athlete requires a tremendous amount of dedication and work ethic, but in the end you know deep in your heart that it is all worth it.

3. "Good players inspire themselves, great players inspire others."

As an athlete, many of us are so focused on how to be the best and what we can do to motivate and inspire ourselves to train hard and play well. One thing I've learned is that being a great player isn't all about how well YOU play or how dedicated YOU are, its also about inspiring others to want it as much as you do and helping your teammates to see their own potential. Giving off that positive energy and showing your teammates how this sport means the world to you can help inspire someone to take on that same level of dedication and commitment. What happens on the field is of course a huge part of a team's success, but what happens off of the feels amongst teammates can sometimes be the extra edge a team needs to come out on top.

4. "Play every game like it's your last."

The reality of being an athlete is that things happen that prevent some of us from playing the sport we love ever again. Imagine being in the middle of a game and all of a sudden you tear your ACL or injure another part of your body and just like that you are out for the season or maybe even for good. Imagine having some kind of medical condition and before you know it your doctor tells you it is no longer safe for you to be participating in rigorous exercise and you are not able to participate in athletics for who knows how long. Imagine how you will feel once your senior year season comes to an end or your club team has its last game and reality sets in that the sport that has been your life for the last few years has come to an end. Every time you're out on that field or court imagine those scenarios, and play as if it was the last time you would ever throw a ball, make a pass, or score a goal. You never know when the think you love the most could be taken away.

5."Don't aspire to be the best on the team, aspire to be the best for the team."

Many athletes are guilty of wanting to be the star of the team and wanting to be seen as the best player. Although wanting to improve and succeed is a goal that all players should have, recognizing and figuring out what your role on the team is can sometimes be more important. Wanting to be the starting first baseman or the starting goal keeper is a great goal, but if your primary role on your team is to be the designated hitter or left defenseman instead it is important to recognize and accept the fact that that is what is going to make your team most successful in the long run. Each and every player on a team has an extremely important role whether they are starting each game or sitting the benched cheering on their teammates. Although it may be extremely difficult to accept your role on a team, realizing that it is what will help bring your team to success while at the same time working on improving your own skills is what it is all about.

6. "Today I will do what others won't so tomorrow I can do what others can't."

As an athlete, going above and beyond expectations is what can separate you from other players. Commitment and dedication are two of the biggest qualities needed in order for an athlete to reach his or her goals. Go above expectations and run that extra mile around the track even though the rest of your teammates are going home. Go to the batting cages that extra day even though your coach only said you should go once. Do that extra round of circuit training even though your protocol says you can stop here. Push yourself a little bit harder each time and when you want to quit just think about how good you will feel in your game next week or once the season starts next month. Think about how all of this hard work and extra training is all going to be worth it once you have reached your goal.

7. "A coach will impact more young people in a year than the average person does in a lifetime."

Oftentimes coaches are taken for granted or not appreciated by the players on a team. One of the most important things I have realized is how much of an impact your coach can have on you. Many coaches spend countless hours with their players each week and get to know them extremely well. Coaches are some of the most influential people in an athletes life and can have such a positive impact on them whether they know it or not. Although it may not be top of mind for some athletes, it is so important to take time to realize how your coach has impacted your life and thank them in some way for being such an incredible role model. Not only do they want what is best for you as an athlete, but as an overall person as well. Coaches deserve to be recognized by their athletes for the amount of support, time and dedication put into ensuring that each and every player is a better individual at the end of the season.

Cover Image Credit: Google

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14 Baseball Players That Could Win The World Series Based On Looks Alone

Major points for looking the best in those baseball pants.

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As baseball season comes to a close, people will miss getting to watch their favorite baseball players in high definition. I'm not the biggest baseball fan but I have watched it more often now since I am in a relationship with a baseball fan.

So, I've compiled a list of the hottest baseball players so that you can know who to watch next year even if you aren't a baseball fan.

1. Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals 

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He may be signed to a different team soon but he definitely is the MVP for the Nationals.

2. Trea Turner, Washington Nationals 

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He has a classic boy next door look.

3. Clayton Kershaw, LA Dodgers

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Reason one: He's 6'4". Reason two: his contract is $32 million.

4. Mike Trout, LA Angels

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All you have to do to fall in love is look at those muscles.

5. Amed Rosario, NY Mets

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This shortstop from the Dominican Republic is hot and has some of the best stats in his position in baseball right now.

6. Kevin Kiermaier, Tampa Bay Rays

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Anyone can get lost in those eyes.

7. Manny Machado, currently a free agent

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Just look at that glowing/clear skin.

8. Yasiel Puig, LA Dodgers

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This 27 year old is single, ladies.

9. Justin Verlander, Houston Astros

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He's a whopping 6'5" but, unfortunately, he's already married to the even hotter Kate Upton.

10. Jose Iglesias, Detroit Tigers

Jose Iglesias

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He's stolen a total of 46 bases, but he can steal my heart.

11. Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies

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Just look at that smile.

12. David Price, Boston Red Sox

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Reason one: he just won a world series. Reason two: He's the third highest paid player in baseball.

13. Jake Arrieta, Philadelphia Phillies

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I'm not usually a fan of facial hair, but he can pull off a full beard better than anyone.

14. Dansby Swanson, Atlanta Braves

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A baseball player or a male model, let me know with that hair I'd like to run my fingers through.

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