By Brian Gotta, President of CoachDeck:
In 2002, I was managing a baseball all-star team of 9 and 10 year-olds. We continued to win games, and this meant I had to continually come up with things to keep the players occupied during downtime in the dugout after we’d finished warm-ups, before taking the field.
One of our favorite pastimes was my quizzing them on baseball statistics. “Who is the all-time stolen base leader?” “Who has the record for most doubles all-time?” It was a great way to acquaint the kids with names from the past and give them a sense of the history of the game they were playing. But I began to run out of records anyone really cared about.
Back then, our city newspaper’s sports page used to run a daily quote made by a current athlete at the top of Page 2. On July 5th of that year, the following quote ran, next to a picture of then-Marlins player, Cliff Floyd:
“I’m not the superstar I want to be yet,” Floyd said. “I’ve still got a lot of work to do.”
At the time, he was coming off an all-star season where he’d batted .317, with 103 RBI and 31 homeruns. He was as good a candidate as anyone to have figured they’d “arrived”. But Floyd’s statement said everything about his drive, his tenacity and his character.
I read that quote to my players the next day in the dugout. After we won our District championship, I gave them each a copy of the quote along with a picture of Cliff Floyd. For the remainder of what turned out to be a great all-star run, as we went on to win Section and finish 3rd in state, each game, a new player recited the quote. They all seemed to understand that it meant: “We’re good. But we can be better.”
It’s nice when youth sports can teach lessons like this to kids. And it’s even better when professional athletes, who these kids look up to, can be role models and provide these lessons through their actions and their words. I don’t know a whole lot about Cliff Floyd. But I will always be a fan of his for the meaning he provided to my team that summer nine years ago.