Written by: Justin Dunnam
It was October 18th, 2017, a Wednesday, at Coastal Alabama Community College in Bay Minette, Alabama, and I received some information that I desired to hear for as long as I have been playing baseball. My coach told me that the University of South Alabama was coming to watch me play the following day at Southeastern Louisiana. I played it cool on the outside, but I was shaking like a leaf on the inside. The next day finally came, and after a nerve-racking bus ride, our team finally arrived to start the game. I am the leadoff batter, so as soon as I walk up to the plate I see the South Alabama baseball scout. As if batting lead-off at an away game was not nerve-racking enough, I felt the added pressure of my aspirations and career when I noticed the scout in the stands. It was Intimidating.
The Day Begins
As the saying goes: big time players make big time plays in big time situations, so I stepped in the batter’s box ready to prove I am a big time player. My first at bat did not go well. My second at bat was not much better. Then the third at bat went terribly as well. When it was all said and done, I went 0-3 that game with 3 weak ground balls, and the only time I got on base was when I walked. I was so frustrated, because this scout came all the way to Louisiana to watch me and I did TERRIBLY. Growing up around the south Alabama region I always dreamed of playing at South Alabama, but I thought I was watching my chances vanish before my eyes as if I were watching a movie drama.
Frustration, Chills, Comfort
I was playing left field in the bottom of the 7th inning when I saw the scout get up and leave. Part of me felt like my chances to play baseball at the next level left the ballpark when the scout left. I was already frustrated because I did poorly, but now I was simply becoming mad at myself. Amid my frustration, and without being able to explain it, I heard a voice in the back of my mind saying, “Trust. Trust in me.” I truly believe God spoke to me on Thursday October 19th in left field. Then and there the hair all over my body raised, and on that very warm day, chills went down my body. I did not know what the words meant at the time, but I know it was comforting during those moments of frustration, anxiety, anger, and self-aggression. The first game in the double header ended and we lost to Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College (MGCCC). We started the second game against the same team. Once again I am in left field, but this time without the South Alabama scout to watch me.
My Luck Changes
The second game could not have been more different from the first game. It was leaps and bounds better for our team and for me personally. I went two-for three with a double, a single, two stolen bases, scoring three times, and we beat MGCCC that game. Of course, I’m happy after the second game, but I cannot quit kicking myself for blowing my chances to play at South. In my head I was thinking, “well I’m not going play at south, but I’ll email South Eastern’s coach and ask if there is a spot for me, because at least he saw play really well my second game.” At that time, I thought the voice I heard in the outfield was letting me know that maybe I wasn’t meant to play for South Alabama, which was very dis-heartening for a kid that has always wanted to play there.
Monday night around 7 o’clock, I am sitting at my buddy’s house and I get a phone call from a random number. I answer like any other phone call and the caller starts with, “Hey Justin, this is coach Protho at South Alabama…” I was absolutely shocked. This coach watched me play a terrible game and still called me. We set up a visit to the university where he showed me around the facilities, introduced me to the coaching staff, and allowed me to tour the campus. I already liked it, but after that visit I loved it. To my amazement, they offered me a spot on the team that day. A few weeks later I committed to play baseball for the University of South Alabama.
Trust in The Lord
I know this baseball story is probably not the typical essay response you receive, but the moral of the story is to trust in God. For God opens up doors when you do not think they will or could be open, as shown in my story. I thought for sure I had no chance to receive an offer to play for such a well-respected baseball team, but thanks to the good Lord I have an opportunity to continue my academics and my baseball career at such a great school. When stressed or frustrated you can always fall back and trust in God, because like it says in proverbs 3:5: “Trust in the lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.”