Dear F&M Baseball by J. Cole

Dear F&M Baseball by J. Cole

Dear F&M Baseball,

It is an understatement to say you won't truly know how much you will miss something until it's gone. As a young and naive 17-year-old, I began a journey to pursue a higher education that featured all the necessary aspects for me to succeed and have the best experience possible. I wanted to find a school full of hardworking individuals, who all strived to be the best versions of themselves. College is a well-rounded experience, including academics, social life, extracurricular activities, and the memories it leaves you with. Franklin & Marshall felt like that place during my first visit, as I could see the cohesiveness of the community and the diverse opportunities it could provide for me. The liberal arts education it provides opens doors to copious amounts of academic opportunities with a broad range of fields to study. The rigor of the school was intimidating, but I felt that it would lead me to future success. All of these factors, along with the baseball program, made F&M my first choice high above the rest. 

As I look back on that time in my life, wondering how it went by so fast, I can happily say I know I made the right decision. The F&M baseball program has had an immense impact on my life in so many different ways, far beyond the sport of baseball. The relationships and bonds built on a collegiate team are nearly impossible to put into words; however, the unity of a group of people who all share the same visions and goals is powerful. This was prevalent in my four years as a Diplomat, and I know will continue well into my future.

Adversity and adaptability are traits that must be attained to have a successful college career, both inside and outside the classroom. As this unpredictable year has shown, there are so many facets of life that are often out of your control. Our coaching staff emphasized the importance of adversity from day one, as it is a true representation of a person to see how they react to decisions or circumstances that are out of their hands. Seeing our 2020 season get cut short was not easy, mostly because there were more memories to be made and the potential for success was there. However, the unfortunate events allowed me to view my college experience from a different perspective, and appreciate the opportunities and lifelong friends I gained at F&M. Being a student-athlete requires a lot of commitment and pushes your boundaries, but without the privilege of playing on the Diplomat baseball team this letter would be much different.

Lessons Taken From F&M 

Wins and losses shape your season and reflect the success of the team. The F&M baseball program has shaped me into an individual who quickly realized that one who focuses on individual success will always be a liability to the larger group. Playing on a team with 35 hardworking individuals requires unity and selflessness, which is required to be a part of our prestigious program. Although it is a cliche, it is far more important to play for the name on the front of your jersey than the name on the back. The lessons and priorities I have learned from F&M have not only helped my baseball career, but have gone far beyond that by instilling traits into my life that will help me in my future endeavors. If there is one thing I will take away most from the F&M baseball program, it is the lessons I have learned playing the game I love that will shape who I am off the field.

The camaraderie of the team is something I have never seen on a team before, and every member of the program truly cared about those around them. The tight-knit group that was established by our coaching staff was the main reason I came to F&M, as I could see how driven and caring each player was on my first visit. Being surrounded by those who pushed and motivated me in the weight room, on the field, and in my studies has allowed me to be where I am. I will never be able to give back to this program what it gave to me, as it has shaped my whole future.

Appreciating the Time You Have

Our last practice was filled with mixed emotions, and is one of my most memorable days at F&M. Although we did not know what the weeks ahead of us held, it allowed us to realize we could no longer take our time at F&M for granted. If you play a sport, you know how grueling and long some practices can be, and you wonder if they were ever going to end. However, this practice was much different. We enjoyed our time together and made the most of it, staying on the field as long as the sun allowed us to, realizing that for some, our collegiate athletic careers together were coming to an end. It was a tough pill to swallow, and is still frustrating to think about; however, having the opportunities to make so many memories over the years puts me at ease knowing how fortunate I am.

This crazy and unanticipated season made me realize you cannot take anything for granted in life. If you are passionate about something, and love what you do, never wish it away. Instead, always live in the moment, because before you know it, you will no longer have it. I know it is a cliche, but college was truly the fastest four years of my life. If I could go back, I would savor every practice, lift and game, giving it 110% and knowing that one day, I will no longer be playing. There are hardships and difficult times you face in college both athletically and academically, but I know now that all of those moments and experiences molded me into what I am today. As I have the opportunity to continue my education and pursue my graduate degree, I will take my next college experience day by day and enjoy every moment. It is a privilege to receive a college education and have the experience that not everyone has, and I know I will no longer take that for granted.

As I had the privilege to be a senior captain this year, it made me realize how important leadership is to a team. I hope I had the same effect on our players as previous captains had on me, and I know I will be a part of this program for the rest of my life. I want to thank my coaches for their hard work and countless instructional sessions in the office, showing up for early work and always doing what is best for the team. But even more so, I want to really thank them for caring about me beyond my athletic success, and ensuring that they were there for everyone both on and off the field. The relationship I formed with the coaches was special, and goes far beyond baseball, which is something I will be forever grateful for.

Saying Thanks

To Coach Horning, thank you for being a driven and caring coach that is as loyal as they come. Your work ethic and drive to push everyone to achieve their greatest potential is something I am grateful for, and is evident in your coaching style. Obviously, a coach has a huge impact on your college athletic experience, and there is a lot of trust instilled in them when you commit to their program. From day one of recruiting until now, Coach Horning has been transparent and dedicated to not only see each individual succeed both academically and athletically, but the program thrive as a unit. Without his commitment to the program and the school, F&M would not be the same. Your devotion to help the school off the field has taught us that being reliable and dependable goes a long way. Thank you for being the best leader our team could have over my last four years.

I want to also thank my family for their continuing support and dedication to never miss a game. Hearing you cheer from the stands is something I will never forget, and you have been with me every step of the way.

Thank you to my team, both past and present, as I will never forget the memories we made together. From our opening weekends in North Carolina, to our spring break trips to Florida, and lastly our journey to the playoffs, all are memories that will last with me forever.

Finally, thank you to the class of 2020, and the friends I will have for the rest of my life. All of you mean so much to me, and I cannot thank you enough for always being there. Although our careers together did not end how we expected, I know the mark we have left on F&M will last a lifetime. You are all truly special people, and I know success is in your future.

I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to have played baseball for F&M, and hope everyone who has the opportunity to play for this program understands how special it truly is. My experience at F&M is something I will never forget, and this letter cannot even begin to describe how much the Diplomat baseball program has positively impacted my life.

Sincerely,

J. Cole
F&M Baseball 
Class of 2020