By Kellen Lee
November 6, 2012

Have you checked the latest NCAA baseball rankings? Well, you would find Santa Clara University leading the nation in meetings. Coach O’Brien always jokes how we will always lead the country in meetings, but he isn’t joking. Even when I was a player at UC San Diego, we would have countless meetings discussing countless topics and philosophies. Each discussion has a purpose and application to baseball of course, but more importantly to life in general. The Santa Clara baseball program meets once a week to discuss a topic that is predetermined by the coaching staff. These particular meetings are known as “Baseball 101” sessions. In all of the meetings, the players are able to take something away that will make them a better baseball player, student, teammate, brother, son, etc. I know that experiencing those meetings as a student-athlete made me a better baseball player, and helped “set the tone” for the rest of my life. As I establish myself as a member of this coaching staff, I have seen many opportunities where I have utilized the skills that were gained through the various discussions in my playing career and over the last year as a Bronco on the Mission Campus. You definitely don’t realize how many life lessons one can learn while competing in a sport like baseball. I am convinced that I choose to live my life the way I do today based on my past baseball experiences, both the positive and negative ones.

One of the recent Baseball 101 topics was the importance of good body language, no matter what is going on around you. Coach O’Brien suggested to the team that each player needs to strive to become the “eye of the storm.” This is obviously a reference to a storm pattern that has a spiraling motion and the middle of the storm pattern appears to have an eye. In a real eye of the storm, the wind is calm, there are no clouds in sight, and everything seems to be under control. Meanwhile the area just outside the eye is the most violent and dangerous area of the storm pattern.  Now, you may be asking what weather has to do with baseball. Well, we want our players to be calm when chaos is around them – we want them to be the actual eye of the storm. It is imperative for our players to realize that the calmer they are in chaotic situations, the more powerful they are as baseball players. Ironically, just a few days ago I watched the movie The Day After Tomorrow, and it portrays this analogy exactly.

A few weeks back, we watched The Matrix (I had never seen it before… one of my favorites now), and had the players discuss the character development of Mr. Anderson or Neo throughout the movie. Now, you really might be asking how a movie like The Matrix can relate to baseball. I was a little skeptical at first as well. But after our discussion with the team, the entire team has a better understanding of how a player can apply the lesson to baseball. The main concept that I pulled away from watching The Matrix was that everyone has a choice as to who they want to be when they are in difficult situations. At the beginning, Mr. Anderson was someone that was scared and not willing to take risks, while Neo was someone who was able to battle the “agents” in the Matrix and overcome their attacks. Mr. Anderson, during the Kung Fu scene, had an obvious false sense of confidence where he thought he knew enough to beat Morpheus. Throughout the movie, his character learns that more imporatant than having the skills to succeed, is believing in yourself. Every player has a choice to take on difficult situations with belief, or play scared during the tough times. In showing the development of Neo as a character, players are more conscious of the fact that they do in fact have a choice to act a certain way when faced with challenging situations.

Through my experiences, both as a player and now a member of the coaching staff, I have realized that everyone has a choice as to how they live their lives. One simply can choose to be the “eye of the storm,” or like Neo, face any challenge that comes their way with confidence and belief in oneself. Believing in yourself sounds so simple but we all know how difficult it can be at times. One must realize the power that self-belief and confidence can have on performance in sports and life in general.

So, back to my first statement in this blog; the Santa Clara University baseball program most definitely leads the nation in meetings. However, I know these meetings have been well worth my time because I have seen how one can apply all of these topics into a real life situation as I transition into the professional world. I know how hard it can be to see these applications while still playing baseball. Trust me, I was there a little over a year ago. But now I have seen where being the “eye of the storm,” or choosing to go about your life with confidence and belief, can truly improve execution during life’s most difficult situations.