Baseball, the Coronavirus, & Life Lessons

Baseball, the Coronavirus, & Life Lessons: A Student Athlete’s Perspective
by Dale Reeves

 

Liam McFadden-Ackman plays second base for the Mason High School Comets baseball team. Liam is a senior in high school. Last fall Liam signed a letter of intent to play D1 baseball next season for the Northern Kentucky Norse. He was really looking forward to finishing his high school career by having a great season playing for the #1 ranked baseball team in the state of Ohio. But something happened. A global pandemic interrupted his final season in high school. As of this writing, Liam is not sure what will happen with all the end-of-the-year traditions that accompany one’s senior year of high school—things like prom, awards banquets, riding bikes to school on their last day, achievement assemblies, and, of course, the graduation ceremony.

I spoke with Liam last week to see how he is dealing with his senior year being cut short. He said, “Not being able to get on the ball field my senior year has been tough. Before the shutdown, I had a great routine that was working—with school, baseball, and lifting weights. Now it is so weird having so much free time. The hardest part for me is not being able to see my best friends as much as I normally do. I’ve had to adjust and adapt as Coach Bly says.”

Liam continues, “I’ve been playing baseball as long as I can remember. It’s always been there, it’s a way of life for me, part of who I am. My teammates and I all worked super hard to get ready for this season. Our team has a bunch of college commits and some younger guys who will definitely play at the next level. We were in the gym four to five times a week and hitting and fielding almost every day of the week during the offseason. I was very confident and ready to go this year.”

This is not the first time in Liam’s life that he has had to deal with some tough situations. Several years ago, he lost his 26-year-old brother Zac, who died in a tragic motorcycle accident. In his words, Liam says, “Our family has been through a lot over the last few years, with the loss of Zac, and my grandfather also passing away. But our family has come out stronger than ever. I think God has been trying to show me that my faith is most important, followed by my family. Through this recent quarantine, I have had a lot of time to spend with my family and with God. I think this offseason I was too focused on the upcoming season, and had almost no time for my family and God. This interruption in my senior year has given me the time to spend with those I should’ve been spending time with all along. I think God is showing us that he is more important than a job, a baseball season, or any other things going on in our lives.”

Liam has a very tight bond with his dad, Rich. He says about him, “I have a great relationship with my dad. He has truly been a blessing in my life. I would not be the Christian, person, or ballplayer I am today without his encouragement. He sacrifices so much for me, whether that’s throwing BP to me, hitting me grounders, or spending money to allow me to go to different showcases and tournaments around the country to get exposure to colleges. But the most important thing he has done for me is getting me in the church. He has instilled God and the importance of the gospel in me from such a young age. And God has been in my life a lot longer than baseball has been!”

What does the future look like for Liam? He says some of his friends are really worried about what’s going to happen with Prom. Liam says, “It would be awesome to go, but I don’t think it’s something to worry about right now. To be honest, I haven’t really gotten too caught up in this. If all the senior events don’t happen, they don’t happen. It is what it is.” Meanwhile, he is focused on next year and heading off to college. He comments, “The NCAA just released a statement that all spring athletes get another year of eligibility. I don’t think this move will impact me that much. I am just excited to get to Northern Ky. And play baseball at the D1 level. I plan on studying business in college, and am looking forward to meeting new people and making some new friends.”

Liam concludes, “I really think God is trying to show us that he should be the most important thing in our lives. He’s given us this time to sit down and really dive into his Word and get closer to him. I think it’s very important for us right now to realize that this ‘new’ way of life is temporary—it won’t be this way forever. But for now, we must focus on staying safe, spending time with our families, and, most importantly, spend time with God.”

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