Inadvertently catching a temporary break from baseball
Nervous? No. More excited, elated even. He watches the opposing team file into the field one by oneâ€”the Arizona sun enlightening their serious faces. College scouts carefully analyze the game from the bleachers, and roars of the audience fizzle away as he hits the ball into the distance. A fraction of a second. That was all he needed to make a singular wrong step, ending the day as abruptly as it began. Varsity baseball catcher senior Scotty Ike had just pulled his hamstring at the Senior Fall Classic tournament in Arizona, halting his baseball career.
Playing since he was 3-years-old and working his way up to varsity his sophomore year, this tournament was crucial for Ikeâ€™s future. Feeling guilty about leaving the tournament so early in its stages, he works hard through hours of physical therapy, stretches and other various procedures.
â€śIt really stung. The college would see me so I could play college ball, and thatâ€™s a really big tournament as well. To miss out on three or four days of really good baseball, competition [and] a chance to prove yourself, [is] really disheartening,â€ť Ike said. â€śI do what the physical therapist told me, plus a little extra to try and get back faster. I want to be able to practice and be able to keep getting better.â€ť
Before his injury, Ike would practice 2-3 hours a day, putting in extra time and effort to reach his goals of becoming the best player he could be. He gains motivation to work hard through the thought of his teammates and his role as a catcher.
â€śI know I’m on this team, and I have a responsibility to work to be the best player that I can be. Obviously, there’s days where I really don’t want to go up there, but I know that if I don’t keep up my skill then Iâ€™m hurting the team,â€ť Ike said. â€śBeing a catcher,Â it’s probably the most important position, because you’re the only player that’s looking out onto the field. It teaches me leadership skills. I have to be able to communicate with my team to get the best possible results.â€ť
Unfortunately, Ike has been away from baseball since Oct. 9, the day he was injured. When Ike realized he would not be able to play baseball for months on end, he struggled to find inspiration to continue. Pulling his hamstring was not only painful, but it was taxing on his mental health and discouraging toward his dreams of playing for college.
â€śA lot of things that I previously enjoyed, I didn’t find them enjoyable anymore. A lot of things in life, nothing really, brought me joy in that time,â€ť Ike said. â€śOnly six percent of all high school players go on to college baseball. It’s my feelings, that’s what hurts more. That’s what I’m trying to understand more than anything.â€ť
To overcome these challenges, Ike utilizes his love for baseball as a reminder that he is capable of playing again. Although he misses his teammates and being with like-minded people, Ike discovers that the team aspect of baseball also fuels him to recover quicker.
â€śIt’s just something that’s been a part of my life. I love the sport, and I love watching it. I love playing it even more,â€ť Ike said. â€śBut other than playing the sport, I really miss my teammates. I enjoy being on the field with them practicing with them. Being able to be in like a fun environment while also being competitiveâ€”it’s definitely really nice. I want to get better so I can help them, as a team, succeed.â€ť
Ike additionally finds a newfound reliance on optimism and religion, further helping him realize the support he has around him. In the early stages of his injury, Ike often felt helpless, but a close friend was able to console him and he recently shared his feelings with his mother. As a peer counselor, he advocates for talking to a trusted person when struggling.
â€śThis is just one one little hurdle. In my short years of life so far, still small to hurdle that, you know, I’ll be able to get over pretty quickly and be able to keep running that race,â€ť Ike said. â€śI went to one of my closest friends and he definitely is someone that I really trust. He definitely was kind of like a peer counselor to me in the sense that he created this safe environment where I felt like I could talk to him about these things.â€ť
After enduring long months of this struggle and finding ways to cope with losing something he loves, Ike reflects back to how he felt about the tournament, but acknowledges the many valuable lessons he learned. His injury has allowed him to find other passions besides baseball. He plans to focus more on academics and has developed a dream of studying either counseling, ophthalmology or pediatrics.
â€śWhat I learned from this injury was that there’s going to be difficult things in life, there’s going to be things that you know, you don’t always expect and you don’t always want but you have to be able to accept that and work through it so we can keep moving forward,â€ť Ike said. â€śEven though one path may be the end for me there’s always another one somewhere else.â€ť
By Remy Wong, Staff writer
Photo courtesy of Scotty Ike