Given Another Chance – Michael Schlact
By: Michael Schlact
December 30, 2016
One of my favorite things about being a pitching coach is receiving that highly-anticipated phone call about one of our players. Every pitcher signs with us in hopes to go onto the Major Leagues; it’s so fulfilling to help them see their dreams come to reality. This year four or five of my players were re-signed back to the Big Leagues organization, and believe me, there’s simply no way to explain the joy I see on a player’s face when they hear that they have another chance.
As a former pitcher myself, I know what these players are going through. I’m able to coach them from a different angle because I’ve experienced the mistakes, the injuries, the ups and the downs.
I also know that when I call a player up to let them know that I’ll be their coach, the first thing they do is look me up online. What are his stats? How far did he make it? I never did make it to the Majors but I’m a firm believer that you can learn more from your failures than from your successes. In the same way, when my players lose a game or have a bad day, I know that gives them the potential to become better. If they choose to take the failures that they go through and learn from them, that becomes a win.
I did my best when I was playing, but when I injured my arm and my career was stopped short, my mindset had to shift. As I moved into a coaching role, I saw a new opportunity for growth and leadership and a new opportunity to share my faith.
The coaches that I personally learned the most from were those who did not only focus on me becoming a better baseball player but also helped me become a better person as well. They taught me how to pitch my best and how to live out the rest of my life and my faith in a way that glorifies God.
Everyone’s platform is different whether they are broadcasting on live TV to thousands of people or pouring into their one child at home, we all have an audience to influence. God has given me this platform, in this city, with these players, at this time and I don’t take it lightly. My players are watching me in this leadership role—how I act and what I say—and I want to be a light to them as I live out my faith in Christ. Even when I make mistakes I can point to the evidence of God’s forgiveness and grace in my life.
My faith has grown considerably because of the players that I coach, and specifically because I am not a player myself anymore. At first, making that transition was really hard for me. My faith was tested during that time but it was also refined through the process. I had spent my entire life working towards one career, picturing it how I thought it should be, and suddenly that was all taken away from me. But as I watched my career as a player end and my career as a coach began, I started to see God’s purpose in His plan. When everyone said that I should have been mourning my playing career, God showed me what I was really meant to do—to coach.
Today I have the opportunity to help players get to where I was trying to get to. As I come alongside these guys to help them reach their dreams, I experience the truth that it really is more blessed to give than to receive. Every day I see this played out in my life as I put my players first, hoping to be a reflection of Christ.
“In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus Himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’“—Acts 20:35
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