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Keep Your Eye on Your Goal

By Brian Anderson

Special for The Republic

July 23, 1998

It doesn't seem that long ago when I was in high school and trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my life. I always had the dream to play major league baseball.

In trying to reach that goal, I had to skip my senior prom. I was in a tournament, and I wasn't about to leave halfway through the game to put on a stuffy tuxedo. I also didn't make it to my high school graduation because I was in an all-Ohio tournament at Ohio State. I figured I would receive the piece of paper eventually, but I haven't yet.

My parents were open-minded enough to give me the option of doing that.

Before I made it to the major leagues, I wanted to try to get a college scholarship. So I didn't go to any school dances. I rarely went to parties, and when I did, I didn't indulge in a lot of the extracurricular stuff, because I had too much respect for my parents.

Which brings me to this point: For you young people out there, if you have a goal to do something as I did, don't let anything distract you - if you want to be the best athlete, the best doctor, the best whatever.

There's nothing stronger for a young person to deal with than peer pressure. There are all sorts of people who might want you to drink or do something else like drugs. But think about it: What kind of friend would do that?

You can say, "Well, it's a free country and I can do what I want to do." You're right. But if we sit down and debate the issue, I don't think you can give me any positive points about doing that kind of thing, while I can give you about a thousand bad ones, like wrapping your car around a light pole or being sick for two or three days.

Yes, I speak from experience, and it doesn't make you cool at all. Yes, I've had my moments, have done things I'm not proud of. I'm not claiming to be a saint or holier than thou. I'm just trying to make this a common-sense issue.

It's amazing: At the baseball camps that I work, there are all these seventh- and eighth-graders talking about marijuana and alcohol. When I was that age, I had hardly even heard of some of the things they talk about, much less tried them. I know I'm beginning to sound old even though I'm 26, but I think it's the fact that I'm becoming more mature.

It takes a special kind of person not to give in to those kinds of things if you have a dream you want to accomplish. So many kids give in, because they feel they won't be looked at the same by the others. It's harder not to give in.

When I was at Wright State, I gave in and let my girlfriend kind of cloud my vision with some things that were going on. Don't get me wrong, girls are great, but I had offers to play in two of the most prestigious summer college leagues (Alaska and Cape Cod) and turned them both down.

After about a month, I thought, "What in the heck am I DOING?" I regretted it, but then I got a second chance when a pitcher in the Cape Cod League had to go home and they called me up. You have to try to weigh all the factors.

I know it's easier said than done, but think about the consequences of your actions. It will make it a lot easier to reach your goal, and it will be much more rewarding once you get there.

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