Drew Clark – Feather River Baseball

“Junior college athletes are often overlooked because we don’t have the social media platform that comes along with being a Division 1 athlete. Yet, we still go through the same struggles, often without a voice. Plenty of JUCO athletes have the weight of the world on their shoulders because we don’t have a secure four-year school that provides us with scholarships, nice living areas, full time cafes, high end weight rooms, full time tutors, and a great college town to live in. Our futures are always on the line with our performance. And when off the field issues come into play, it’s a whole different ball game.”

“Since my senior year of high school, I’ve been battling depression and anxiety but nobody knew for almost three years. During high school, I was always a standout baseball player, receiving multiple All-Conference and All-State honors, Perfect Game West Coast honors, and being given an opportunity to continue my playing career at Iowa Western Community College, a top 5 programs for Junior College every year.”

“During my Redshirt-Freshmen season, I was clinically diagnosed with depression and anxiety. Not only was I trying to earn a Division 1 scholarship, I was trying to hide my struggles from coaches, teammates, and family. These feelings made me feel like less of a man because I felt weak and embarrassed. I didn’t want anyone to know I was seeing a consoler, living off 3-4 hours of sleep a night due to panic attacks every morning. I didn’t want people to know I cried every day. I didn’t want people to know the thoughts in my head because I didn’t want sympathy. I didn’t want people to know my grades were slipping or that I wasn’t eating. It affected my on-field performance, school work, and everyday life. Baseball used to be an escape, but during this time I lost my passion for the game. Without realizing it, baseball became the biggest part of my life but in a negative way. I was struggling on the field more than I ever have, I kept putting myself in tough positions because I wasn’t playing well and I was being my own biggest critic and using my statistics to define me as a person. I want to let every athlete reading this know that statistics do not define who you are. Sports will be over for all of us one day and nobody will remember you because of your betting average or ERA you posted one season. The teammates I remember most are the ones that had the best integrity, leadership, and the ones with the best attitude on and off the field. The players that had an identity outside of the field.”

“After two World Series runs I decided to transfer, I ended up at Feather River Community College in Quincy, California, a town with two stoplights and 1,000 people, no on campus housing, no athletic scholarships, and no cafeteria. After learning how to deal with my depression and anxiety I was able to impact multiple people on my new campus. We had a small group on campus trying to normalize the stigma of accepting mental health. I was able to share my story and show people there is light at the end of the tunnel. Even though I was helping I still had my own issues to deal with.”

“During the fall season, I had a sub 1.00 ERA and was batting nearly .335. Still with no offers, I started judging myself on my statistics again without realizing it. When the season started up I was doing really well with a sub 2.00 ERA. After a few rough outings, I was back where I was the year before. When the season came to an end due to COVID, my statistics were rough, but I learned to not let that define me as a person. I knew with my off the field actions God would find a home for me. And that he did. I had multiple talks with Morehead State, a Division 1 school in Kentucky. Following my phone calls an injury occurred.”

“I tried I work through it but this injury is something a baseball player can’t play without. I ended up tearing my UCL and underwent Tommy John on July 31st, 2020. I wish I could say something great happened after that but nothing has. Not all success stories happen right away. Some take time, patience, and faith. All that matters is that I’m alive, healthy, and surrounded by great people in my life. Baseball is just a game, and no matter what sport you play, it’s always bigger than the game. Your mental health and the impact you have on the people around you is what really matters. Having success is great, but if you don’t know who you are, and you live vicariously through your athletic success I’d do some soul searching to see who you really are.”

“My story is nowhere near over, but for now my goal is to impact as many of you as possible. Everyone is going through something so please reach out to family and friends and just ask them how they’re doing. Be honest with yourself and don’t be afraid to ask for help. You’re all stronger than you think you are capable of. Be you and don’t give up on yourself. Just because we are considered alphas on the field does not mean we are alphas off the field. Athletes struggle as much as anybody and there is no need to feel ashamed whether you’re a man or woman. Don’t let your struggles define you, rather let them build you into someone stronger.”

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