Home Run

Reflect on an important experience in your life and what you learned from it.

“Clunk.”“Home run!” my teammate yelled, laughing.I winced, trying to hide my embarrassment; a home run would have been great if I had been playing baseball, but I was at my first high school tennis practice, and instead of the ball ending up on the other side of the net, it ended up on the other side of the fence around the football field. In my defense, I was not a tennis player. I had been playing baseball since I was five years old. When I started high school, I tried out for and made the school’s freshman baseball team, starting at third base. I was always eager to play, and it was a great experience to be an integral part of a team while supporting my teammates and friends throughout the season. Sophomore year, I started preparing in January for the March tryouts for the junior varsity baseball team. I frequented the batting cages and learned to withstand the shock of hitting a baseball with a freezing aluminum bat. In March, I spent most of my time in snow-filled parks playing catch with friends. Before I knew it, it was time for tryouts, and I was looking forward to showing my coaches and teammates how much I had improved from the previous season. After the first three days of tryouts, the coaches made the first cuts. My teammates and I waited nervously for the roster to appear on the door. When it did, I desperately searched for my name, but I never found it: I had not made the team. I was confused. I had always been told that if I worked hard enough, I could achieve anything. I felt like the last ten years of playing baseball had been for nothing.I immediately decided that I was not going to spend the spring season feeling sorry for myself. A week after being cut from baseball, I went out for the tennis team. I had never played tennis before, but I knew the coach and had many friends on the team who all encouraged me to try it.On the first day of practice, my friends walked me through a match and explained the rules of the game. I spent most of the practice chasing stray tennis balls that ricocheted off the rim of my racket, but I was having fun and enjoyed my teammates’ company. As the weeks went by, though, I came to love the game of tennis itself. I made the junior varsity squad as part of the third doubles pairing, and even though I was far less experienced than my competition, I did not get discouraged; instead, I found myself motivated to improve.Over the course of the season, I watched professional tennis matches to pick up new techniques and strategies. In addition, every day after our scheduled practice, I went to the elementary school near my house to hit balls against the side of the building, a massive brick wall that bordered a concrete schoolyard. As the weeks went by, I could tell my extra work was paying off when I started making shots during actual matches that I never would have thought I could make. When the season ended, I continued to go and hit against the elementary school wall. My extra effort helped me physically and mentally; whenever I was frustrated, angry, or stressed, I started hitting and instantly felt clearer.The following season, I was shocked when I earned the second singles spot. At first I was nervous because I knew playing at that level would require much more strength, speed, agility, and intelligence. In my first match, I quickly found that players at that level were all more than capable of hitting the ball and keeping it in bounds, so in order to win, I had to learn how to place the ball strategically out of their reach. I focused on improving in that area by going back to the wall every day after practice to perfect any new skills we had learned and to seek out suggestions from my coach. By the end of the season, I had won ten of my 12 matches. I worked hard to make myself a better player, and it worked. I am now eagerly anticipating my senior season to see what I can do.Throughout my high school experience, I’ve learned many important lessons, but one of the most important ones is that even though there will inevitably be disappointments in my life, in order to succeed, I cannot let them get the best of me. Rather, I must keep moving forward to try new things.

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