Updated: Apr 5, 2022
I remember setting foot on my new campus on the first day of junior year after transferring from Serra High School. Needless to say, I was filled with nervousness, excitement, and just a hint of panic. It was a completely new environment. I only knew one person at my new school, the varsity baseball coach had no idea I even existed, and the campus was like a maze to me.
If you think that is overwhelming, wait until you hear how my first day went.
I was late to every class, received homework from every class, and had no friends. After school, my car battery died, and I had to wait an hour for someone to drive by and help me jumpstart my battery. I was miserable. I remember calling my mom, expressing my desire to transfer yet again. Thankfully, she told me to stick with it, and that is just what I did.
As a result of staying put, I now have a solid group of friends that I still keep in contact with to this day, I had two fun years of varsity baseball, and I attended Cabrillo College to play baseball as a result of my athletic success.
I have seriously considered transferring schools on two occasions: one being when I decided to transfer from Serra after my sophomore year, and the second being in the middle of my freshman year at Cabrillo.
We were about halfway through the season, and I had received about 20 or 30 at bats. I was coming off the bench for random pinch hit opportunities and getting a spot start here and there. I knew that if I wanted to play at the next level, something needed to change.
Spoiler alert: I didn't transfer. By a stroke of good fortune (for me), six players got suspended for the rest of the season for cheating on a homework assignment, and I was given an extended opportunity to prove myself, and the rest is history. I played well, earned a starting role the next season, and attended Oklahoma Baptist University on a scholarship the following year.
I considered leaving a school twice. On one occasion I transferred. On the other I stayed put. Both progressed my career in different ways.
So how do we know when the right time to transfer is? Here's my advice.
1. Be patient. The lineup on opening day is ALWAYS different than the lineup at the end of the season. Things change. Guys get injured. Other guys don't perform as expected. The opening day lineup is just the coach's best guess on how the season will go, but the reality is that no one truly knows how the season will go. Anything can happen! If you do not see your name on the opening day lineup, do everything you can to make yourself the next man up. Be the first option to come off the bench. Give yourself as many opportunities as you can and do the most with those opportunities. There is more than just one way into the lineup. Be patient, but don't linger. Do everything in your power to earn your spot, and if you are not given your opportunity in a reasonable amount of time, then you know it is time to go.
2. Let's be honest. It's about you. I'll be quite honest with you. Anybody who tells you that you are quitting on your team by transferring doesn't have your best interests at heart. Yes, being a team player is important. Always invest yourself in the team aspect wherever you are playing. However, at the end of the day, the decision is affecting YOUR career. I've played with countless players who have left their high school or college for the betterment of their own careers. Many of them I still call my good friends. Their decision to switch schools did not negatively affect our relationships in any way. I understood why they made their choice.
Your teammates will not be affected by you staying or leaving as much as you will. As tough as it is, try to put other's opinions on the back burner, as they will never know the full story. They can only see your decision from their point of view. Seldom will you meet someone who's willing to put themselves in your shoes.
3. Be realistic. Where do you really stand in the depth chart? Be honest with yourself. Are you the next man up, or are you buried somewhere down towards the bottom of the barrel where you will never sniff the field? Pay attention to when you play. Do you come in during close games or take up space somewhere in the outfield during a blowout? This will tell you everything you need to know about how your coach perceives you.
4. How do you portray yourself? I'll be honest. Being buried at the bottom of the depth chart at Serra was in large part my own fault. After not seeing my name in the starting lineup, I would spend the rest of the game joking around with the other bench players, disengaged from the game. As much as I hate to admit it, after one game I remember having to ask my buddy if we won. It was funny at the time, but looking back I completely understand why the coaches only gave me four at bats. Believe it or not, coaches notice that sort of thing. I wouldn't want to play somebody who doesn't care either. After getting cut from the team my sophomore year, I knew I had to step it up, but I had already established my negative reputation in permanent ink. I knew I needed a change of scenery if I wanted to remake my image. Bottom line, if you don't like how your coaches view you, then change your image. That part of the game is completely under your control.
5. Go where you can play! Baseball is too beautiful a game to sit on the bench and watch someone else play it. Why not go where you can be a part of the action? Go where you can establish a career. Sure, going to a Division I college looks good, but what's the point if you will never see the field? Above everything, my advice to younger athletes will always be to go where they can play. Wherever you are in your career, you're there for you. So make the most out of your baseball experience and go where you can play every day. Regardless of the level, good numbers always looks better than no numbers.
Thanks for reading!