You seem to always remember the strangest, almost insignificant, details when you receive life-changing news or experience an earth-shattering event. When I found out that my grandma passed away, I distinctly remember the time of day it was when my dad called me; 3:43 PM. Ever since that day, I’ll occasionally see that same time when I look at a clock and I am immediately taken back to the moment. I am telling you all of that to say this, it was an especially sunny Wednesday in the Spring of 2017 in Liberty, Missouri; the doctor I was seeing was wearing black Nike glasses with a green Pilot G-2 pen in his front shirt pocket of his starched white shirt when he told me that I would never play baseball again.
I was born in the summer of 1994 in the great state of Oklahoma. I know now that a person is not born with a love for something, but rather it is learned over a lifetime. But it did seem as if I came into this world with a natural passion for baseball. One of my first ever memories was the car ride to Johnson Park in Tulsa for my initial introduction to the game. Like every ballplayer, I started with T-ball, but unlike all my friends on that 1997 team, I was lucky enough to play 20 more years; all the way through college.
I will save you from all of the details of my playing career, but just know that it was my life. At the time, I firmly believed that not only was I created to play baseball, but to be the best. I never referred to going to practice, working out, or studying as a “grind,” because I truly felt joy if it meant that I was making myself a better ballplayer. Even in college, I did not view the “hard stuff” as work because I knew it would help me. Granted, I was not always the best at that stuff, but I always knew the purpose behind it.
It was the summer before my fifth year of college, my redshirt-senior year, when everything came together for me. I was in the best shape of my life and I was locked in mentally. I would bet my life that I had outworked everyone in the country. I had a great fall season that semester. I was throwing harder than ever and my confidence was growing daily. I felt bulletproof. But I wasn’t. It was one day at practice that I realized that my path had taken me too close to the sun.
I was shagging batting practice like any other day, but something felt off. I threw a ball in towards the bucket and felt something in my hand. The ball sailed high and to the right, which was odd since I almost always put the ball where I wanted. I shrugged it off and blamed it on the guy that was supposed to catch it. It happened again and again. I could not feel the ball in my hand. Something was off. I walked off the field confused and scared. I found out later that I had severe nerve damage in my arm from previous injuries. My dreams literally slipped through my fingertips. A part of my soul died that day. A part of me that I would never get back.
At the time, I did not know the reason for all the pain and frustration I went through. But in that darkness, I uncovered parts of myself that I did not know existed. I unearthed a fierce passion to teach others how to better themselves no matter the odds, the circumstances, or adversities they may face. Everything that has happened to me has led me to this point, and I would not trade it for anything.
My name is Matt Crawford. I once found myself in a place I never thought I would be, and you might be in a similar situation right now. Let me help you be the greatest version of yourself not only as an athlete, but as an individual beyond your sport. Schedule a free mini session today!