During AAU, I had a team player named Joe, who was very athletic, motivated, kind-hearted, and just full of potential. On the surface, Joe was a great guy to be around with lots of jokes and insight. Mentally, he could not handle loosing a game, or walking an opponent. His mental explosions during some of the games were causing a lot of problems with the team. The other team mates were becoming frustrated with him, as were the coaches. He was becoming a cancer on the team. As the leader of the team, I decided to get involved.
I invited Joe to lunch one day. I had no choice but to give Joe an ultimatum, either control his emotions or I was going to ask the coaches to suspend him. I explained to Joe that he was being unfair to the team, and before I could help him, he would have to be honest with himself. I learned that he was having some problems at home that were preventing him from focusing. He was also loosing his confidence. He was the number one player in his local city, but he was being intimidated by the talents he was up against in the AAU league. I invited Joe to practice with my dad and me at the batting cages and the YMCA. The practice would enhance his performance and his confidence, while I knew my dad would take care of the attitude. My father has no tolerance for childish outburst.
Afterwards, Joe struggled because his baseball skills were rusty, but he never had a negative attitude. He would come up to me and say “DiNisco, why did that happen, what did I do wrong?” and I would explain things to him like “your dipping your shoulder and your popping up” or “you have to pause in between pitches and shorten your delivery so these kids don’t steal bases on you”. I have patience for anyone who is willing to learn and willing to work hard. I admired Joe for the learning qualities he posses and his work ethic. Despite the negative attitude the team had towards him, he appreciated and executed the advice I gave him, and he became a very valuable player of the team.
I learned that no matter how unstable someone can seem, they can still learn and apply things. With my coaching and encouragement, Joe became a focused, confident and a phenomenal player. I saw the potential in Joe, and I knew all he needed was someone to believe in him and willing to help him.