Casey Stangel is a junior pitcher at Lake City High School (Coeur d’Alene, Idaho) who also plays for the SoCal Explosion. Her high school team won the Class 5A state softball championship last season and she has committed to play college softball at the University of Missouri. She will blog for ESPNHS throughout the 2012 season.
I take a Ted Williams approach to softball. What I means is, when Ted Williams played baseball he always had one thought in his head. He said “A man has to have goals, for a day, for a lifetime; and mine was for people to say, ‘There goes Ted Williams, the greatest hitter who ever lived.’ ” My motivation is that I want to be successful, and I want people to say, “There goes Casey Stangel, the greatest softball player who ever lived.” Crazy goal to shoot for? Definitely. That being said, I know all the things I have to do to make it possible. I have chosen the lifestyle to get there and I put in the work to do it; so what is so crazy about that?
Motivation comes in different ways to every athlete; it’s a personal thing. There are two main types of motivation for me, internal and external.
When practice is over and everyone is leaving, there is a voice inside my head that says, “I could do more today.” I know that the work that is put in when nobody else is watching is what separates the good players from the great players. Self motivation, or internal motivation, is something that is really hard to teach, because it is something that’s in your DNA. I believe internal motivation comes from those who pursue greatness, rather than fear failure. It means that you want to be the best, so with every decision I make, I ask myself, “Does this benefit my dream or not?” When self motivated, you don’t have to have people tell you to go do it. I want to go practice, I want to go for a run, and I want to do those extra five sprints. The important thing is that you absolutely love what you are doing -- that is truly where self motivation comes from. Loving every second of the game, and wanting to do everything and anything that will make you the best is what it’s all about.
External motivation is something that really fires me up. My perfect example is football. The football coach at my high school is an outstanding model of a great motivator. As is typical in the sport, before every game our football players get the inspirational speech that gets them jacked, and then they go out and battle. One thing I love about football is throughout every part of the sport, the coaches are pushing players to go harder and give it everything they have. That is just one of the reasons why I respect our high school football coach -- because he motivates not only football players but any student in our school to give it everything they’ve got. External motivation can come from anywhere. It is a simple reminder outside of yourself to keep pushing and fighting because you’re getting closer and closer to your dream with every move. There is a video I downloaded from YouTube onto my phone that I watch every single night before bed. It is called “Quiet Confidence” made by the TCU baseball coach. It is an external motivator to remind me about the will to win, and what it takes to be the best. I remember the coach’s words when I am in a game, “Sharpen your focus, grasp the urgency of now and win this pitch.”
Motivation can be a YouTube video, a coach that you truly admire, or it can be a fire within yourself that drives you to your goal. It can be numerous things, but for everyone it is different. When you can’t find motivation, remember why you play. Always, always remember why you love what you do, because that is motivation enough to keep on pursuing your dreams.
Read the previous installment of Casey's blog – on playing by the book – here.