My High School Experience

A look into my days in High School and how it led to me to where I am now.

High School feels like it was just yesterday, but this July will be ten years. Wow, it’s crazy to think ten years ago I was going to homeroom and sitting in the cafeteria with my friends. I went to Holy Trinity Diocesan High School on Long Island. I wasn’t overly enthusiastic about attending a new school, with new kids, forty minutes away from my house, and where I had to wear a tie and blazer every day. My dad told me to trust him that everything would work out as it should, so I did.

Freshman year was tough, and my trust in my dad was tested. I could go on and on about waking up at 5:45 every morning, or how I had maybe two friends for most of the school year, or how I couldn’t have been more awkward speaking to a girl, but I’ll save the complaining. The school itself was nice, but I didn’t feel like I was fitting in. I was getting ready to ask my parents to switch schools when the baseball tryout schedule was posted. By the end of tryouts not only had I made the team, but I had a group of guys that I considered my friends, and my desire to switch schools disappeared.

Sophomore year was a completely different year for me. After a successful freshman season with our team having the best record in the league along with my new friendships, I was gaining confidence. At the beginning of the fall semester the Head Varsity Coach asked me and a few other sophomores to attend the varsity workouts being held after school. The Head Coach was Bob Malandro, but to everyone in the baseball world, he was known as Hondo. Hondo pulled me and my best friend aside and told us that by the time we graduate we will have won two championships. A bold statement to make to two sophomores if you ask me, but we were in awe of the belief and challenge that he bestowed on us. I was so happy to have been invited to the varsity workouts, but I was more excited because the other players he asked to join were my closest friends.

After going through the workouts in the fall, and developing relationships with the upper classman and coaches, I was made a starting pitcher for the Varsity team. The team we had was scary with college talent all over the field, with college and professional scouts coming to watch us play almost every game. The upperclassman taught us, the younger guys, how to carry ourselves and what it meant to be part of a team. My small group of friends and I didn’t want to give any of these upperclassmen a reason to get on us for anything, so we showed up every day to the field ready to work, and understood that hard work was respected, not seniority. The comradery we had for one another was unmatched. Throughout the season my confidence grew, not only from my performance but from my teammates as well. Whether it was hanging out in the parking lot after school, late night player practices, or getting food at the local school deli, it felt like the team was always together. At the end of the season, we were the Catholic League Champions and Hondo’s prediction was off to a good start.

Junior year was a learning year for me. I started the year off feeling overly confident coming off a Catholic League Championship and having committed to the University of Maryland at the end of my sophomore year. The once quiet and shy kid was transformed into an individual confident in myself on and off the field and believed that baseball could provide a life for myself and my family. At this point, my focus was to be the best ballplayer I could be, I outworked everyone. So, my junior year was spent fine tuning my movements, mentality, and pitches. Our team had lost a lot of talent from the graduating class, so we had to rebuild and reload the team. It would be challenging to do so with so many new faces on the team in pivotal roles. The returning players did what we thought was best and stuck to the same methods as the classes before us. We lost in the semi-finals that year to a team we knew we were better than. That feeling stuck with us the entire summer.

Senior year began right where the team had left off. We spent the entire summer working out together. We had guys from all parts of New York City and Long Island on our team, but the travel distance wasn’t even a thought for us. The whole summer and fall we decided as a team, that no one would be more prepared than us this year. We had been restocked in talent and depth, but most importantly comradery. Once again, the collegiate talent was evident all over the field, the scouts were back in the stands, and we were chomping at the bit to dominate our competition. Win after win, our collective confidence grew. Practices became a great balance between competitive repetitions and fun. At the end of the regular season awards were given out and I earned a few of them. Hondo told me, “The awards are great, but the championships are what matter. Bringing a group of individuals together, getting them to commit to a goal, relentless in their pursuit to achieve it, and finally compete is the most challenging thing to do in sports.” Finishing the regular season as the #1 seed in the league, we patiently waited for our opponents to be named. During the week leading up to the semifinals, we must’ve had at least five player-only practices. We still practiced with our coaching staff, but we felt that we needed to be over prepared, and we were always looking for an excuse to meet up. After sweeping the semifinals we were set to play our rival school in a three-game series. We split the first two games and the final game was set, winner take all. In the bottom of the 6th, down one run with two outs, and two runners in scoring position, we hit a double in the right field gap to score two, take the lead, and win the Championship.

What a season it was. We earned that championship in the summer and in the fall. Our commitment not only to a win championship, but to each other is what allowed us to reach our goal. We didn’t care about the parties that we would miss, or the events that we thought would be fun. Regardless of how tired we felt, or if we were sick, or had other commitments, it didn’t matter. Our goal was simple, to win a championship. We made the sacrifices necessary to hoist a trophy up in the air at the end of the season, and dog pile like no one had done before. So, at the end of the day, Hondo was right on both accounts. The hardest thing to do in sports is to get a group of individuals on the same page for a common goal, resist the easy way-out, avoid temptation, and execute to accomplishment. The other thing he was right about was that by the time that my class graduated we would have won two championships, and we did.

Alex Robinson

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