A story that is making headlines in the college baseball world right now is the story of Florida International’s Garrett Wittels. Most of you reading this will probably be saying “Who is Garrett Wittels?” Garrett Wittels is a sophomore infielder that has gone from being an afterthought to a full-fledged star in a three month period. Garrett right now has a 54-game hitting streak, 4 games shy of the all time Division I record held by ex major leaguer and Oklahoma State Cowboy Robin Ventura. Garrett is a great example of perseverance and dedication. Garrett hit just .246 as a freshman last year and only .236 this past summer in a wood bat league for college players. Those aren’t stats that will turn anyone’s head.
Garrett came into this year for Florida International with no real spot in the everyday lineup for a team that hasn’t made the NCAA tournament since 2001. Garrett continued to work hard and didn’t get down and went from an envisioned bench player to the Sun Belt Conference Player of the year. I for one will be rooting for Garrett to break the 58-game hitting streak record. Everyone likes an underdog story.
I think there is a lesson that can be taken away from Garrett’s story. As a youth coach I feel the top priority is to develop every player on your team and give every player an opportunity to succeed. It is very important to develop as many players as possible, you never know who will blossom late and those game experiences will come in handy down the road. Player development needs to be the focus for youth coaches as winning and losing at the younger levels isn’t as important as developing players for the future and giving all of the players on the team enjoyment. I do feel it is important for youth players to experience winning, however I also feel it is important for them to experience losing and to have a chance to develop.