HSBN Scholarship Essay Entry: Johnny Thraum
Johnny Thraum, #1, from the Pine Crest Panthers, is an outfielder that graduates with the class of 2020. Johnny and his teammates have been dealing with emotions since their season was cut short. He gave us some insight into what the past few months have meant to him.
Early on, I never considered the idea of only playing just one sport. Growing up I participated in basketball, football, soccer, golf, tennis, and baseball. When I began high school, only one remained: baseball. It has always had my love and unwavering commitment. From the day I picked up a bat in a pre-kindergarten recess, I was hooked.
This introduction became the foundation for developing a dedication and devotion to the sport I will cherish the rest of my life. I have spent thousands of hours working almost every day, year-round, to grow as a player. In my spare time, I watch games on television trying to find new ways to improve. Now that appetite is satisfied watching classic games and players on YouTube. Baseball has become a major part of my identity.
Like many of the seniors playing baseball, my goal for the past two years was to reach the collegiate level. After a slow-paced junior summer in terms of recruiting, I knew the following summer would be the most important in my life. It was during these three months that the recruiting process truly started to click for me.
I began receiving interest from several schools I thought would be a great potential fit for me. As the summer came to a close, my travel team planned to finish with a final tournament in Boston. In the fourth inning of our last game, I stole second, not knowing those ninety feet would be affecting my next four years. Upon sliding into second, I broke my ankle in three places and my dreams of playing college baseball came to an end.
Baseball has provided me with so much happiness throughout the 14-plus years of playing that it is difficult to see it cut short now in my last year of high school. My favorite experiences from the sport have come consistently throughout my high school career and I know more would have followed had the season continued.
However, it is especially difficult knowing I will be leaving behind one of the closest and most tight-knit groups I have ever been a part of. This abrupt finish to the season has reduced our team from hanging out on an almost daily basis to now creating team Tik Toks in our abundant free time.
I am confident this team will remain in contact for many years to come because we are not just teammates but great friends. From my fellow seniors, all the way down to the couple of 8th graders we had on the varsity roster this year, we have developed into a family of our own.
The effects of the virus, though, extend far past baseball in changing the landscape of how our senior year will progress. The hopes of having such events as Grad Bash, Senior Skip Day, Prom, and most importantly Graduation, are diminishing as each day passes.
Initially, I was aggravated realizing I would not experience these high school milestones, but those selfish emotions wore off. I began to grasp and understand the gravity of the situation and the profound effects it is having on society. Sacrificing these momentous occasions is nothing compared to all those fighting the pandemic on the front lines. Words can’t describe the immense gratitude I have for the healthcare workers risking their lives for the betterment of others.
In a way, baseball itself has prepared me to better handle the bitter ending of my senior year due to COVID-19. I realized this when I reflected on my own playing experiences and the thousands of games I have watched in my life.
In a game where the elite players fail seven of every ten times, adapting to adversity becomes not only a discipline displayed on the field, but also forms a lifestyle of resiliency. It is this same resiliency that has helped me to handle and shake off the fact that I will not be playing college baseball.
I do keep in mind that I will be attending my dream school next year and am now planning to continue playing, albeit at the Club level. I look forward to the friends and the memories that await.
Twenty years down the road, I do not imagine these past few months will become a large chapter in the story of my high school life and baseball career. Rather, the first three and a half years will take precedent in what my high school experience was really about.
From the hundreds of hours of hard work in the cage, weight room, and on the field after school, to all the stupid laughs I had with my lifelong friends during school, my high school story is by no means a tragedy. It has given me both the tools to succeed in college and beyond and has provided me countless memories.
COVID-19 may have ended my senior season premature but baseball’s continual impact on me will remain well past my playing days. I cannot wait to teach future generations how to play the game and show them how to develop a strong work ethic, discipline, and lifelong friends along the way.
One of my favorite pictures is of me with my parents and grandfather attending a World Series game in 2013. Every time I look at it, I can’t help but think how the game of baseball helped connect three generations and supplied all of us with the same profound enjoyment.
I would advise future generations to heed one simple nugget of advice: PLAY EVERY GAME LIKE IT IS YOUR LAST!
Editors Note: Seniors wanting to enter the competition, follow the link below: