Back up to bat

Failure motivates student athletes to persevere…

Tony DeLotell | Staff Writer

In the increasingly competitive world of sports, nearly all athletes have some sort of drive that keeps them going and pushes them to be the best they can be. Some find it in their families, others find it in their community, but seniors Bhavik Modi and Sam Simpson have realized their ambition and inspiration comes from experiencing failure.

Modi made the varsity baseball team this year after being cut his sophomore and junior years. Modi said his lack of experience in the sport was the biggest reason for the coaches passing over him for two years.

“I think it came down to my inexperience in the sport,” Modi said. “I haven’t been playing for very long, so I knew my chances weren’t as good as the people who have been playing baseball their whole lives. After the first year I got cut, I knew I had to work harder, so I started hitting the weight room, getting stronger and trying to develop my skills on the baseball field. Eventually, I got better.”

Modi said after working hard off the field during his sophomore year, he was able to improve to the point that he felt good about his chances of making the team.

“Coming into my junior year, I was much closer to making the team,” Modi said. “After my success during tryouts my junior year I figured, ‘Why not give it one last go?’ [I] gave it one more shot this year and it ended up working out.”

Assistant varsity coach Curt Bly is an active part of the evaluation process before each season. According to Bly, while Modi did not have the best tryout during his sophomore and junior years, another reason he was cut was due to a lack of open positions on the team.

“In [Modi’s] case, we had a lot of pitching back,” Bly said. “Opportunities were limited, [and Modi] didn’t show [his] best.”
Simpson, while on the baseball team this year as a senior, was also cut from the team his junior year. A poor tryout was the number one reason for being cut, according to Simpson.

“You either have to hit or pitch and I didn’t do any of that,” Simpson said.

According to Bly, it is difficult to cut players, but he will offer advice to each one on how to improve his game.

“I always tell a kid that doesn’t make it, ‘If you really want this, don’t let me decide it’s over,’” Bly said. “‘Play in the summer, work at the things we’re looking for, come back next year and give it another shot.’ I can say that, [it] is something I always say, but [it is] something that rarely happens. A lot of times, especially in the upper level, if [athletes] don’t make it, they choose not to come back. …Bhavik and Sam made the decision [that] they were going to come back and give it another shot.”

Modi said that after being cut from the baseball team during his junior year, he went to Bly for advice on what he should work on to make the team next year.

“When I got cut my junior year, I was like, ‘Wow, I took lessons, I worked hard and I went to every workout,’” Modi said. “‘If that didn’t get me on the team, I don’t know what will.’ Eventually, I talked to Coach Bly and he told me I should come out one more year and see how it goes. It ended up  working out on the mound this year for me.”

Instead of feeling discouraged after being cut, Modi said he felt even more motivated to better himself as a player.

“Being told that I wasn’t qualified to be in the position of making the team really motivated me to get better at [my game], because I knew I could do it,” Modi said. “It just came down to how much work I was willing to put into it.”

Like Modi, Simpson said that being cut his junior year only encouraged him to come back this year and try out again. Simpson said that he felt like he needed to prove his talent to coaches and fellow players alike.

“[Getting cut was] the only reason I came back,” Simpson said. “I probably wouldn’t have come back this year [if I had made the team last year]. [Getting cut] is the reason I came back this year. I had something to show.”

Simpson said getting cut made him push himself harder in the conditioning aspect of the sport. For example, he said he makes an extra effort to not finish last while running poles, which is a conditioning drill where players sprint from foul pole to foul pole.

“[Getting cut made me push myself with] running,” Simpson said. “We had to do 10 poles every practice, so I would just go. I didn’t want to be last.”

Bly said that Simpson and Modi both did what they needed to do in tryouts in order to make the team this year.

“Coming in to the tryout, we didn’t know how much to expect from [Simpson], but he had a very good tryout,” Bly said. “He made [the selection] a difficult decision. He really earned the opportunity. We were impressed with his and with [Modi’s] desire to come back out and have the guts after not making it.”

While the goal is to make the team, Modi said there are some positive aspects of not making a team every year.

“Definitely the motivational factor [was a positive aspect] of being cut,” Modi said. “You don’t take it for granted. A lot of people, when they make teams, think that since they’re already on the team they don’t need to work hard or push themselves to get better. Ultimately, you develop a selfish attitude; eventually, it comes down to understanding what kind of privileges you [get by] being on the team, and trying to get the goal of winning as a team instead of your individual statistics.”

Bly said he was impressed with the team-oriented attitude that Modi and Simpson both possess.

“It’s about the team,” Bly said. “When we met with them, they were very clear that they wanted to be a part of it and they would do whatever we needed them to do, and they’ve held that up. They’ve both been very positive members of the team: no egos, no attitude, and when they’ve gotten an opportunity, they’ve done the best that they can.”