Michael Thomason: Overcoming Adversity

Hello, my name is Michael Thomason. I am 18 years old and I was born in Atlanta, GA on April 14th, 2001. I am an only child, which is extremely rare in today’s world and my parents were divorced when I was four years old. My eighteen years of life have experienced many ups and downs and because of these obstacles I am the person and athlete I am today.

I grew up in McDonough, Georgia. The city is not small, but not big either. My family had to work twice as hard to provide for me and make ends meet. This hard-working attitude my parents possessed rubbed off on me and for that I am extremely grateful. My work ethic has always been something I pride myself on in athletics and academics. I have not always been the most talented player on every team I have played on, but my work ethic and determination has given me an advantage. As a four-year letterman at Ola High School, I helped the baseball team reach the state championship for the first time in the school’s fifteen year history. While I have experienced high levels of success in my life, I have also had more than my share of setbacks and bumps in the road along my journey to college baseball.

It all started in my eighth grade year when I was a multi-sport athlete at Ola Middle School, playing Baseball and Basketball for the mustangs. Being that my mom worked for the school system as a psychologist, I could attend school anywhere I wanted. I had a really good eighth grade season in baseball playing select travel baseball for the Foundation Athletics out of Fayetteville, Georgia. When it was time to choose my high school, I ultimately chose to stay at the high school that would create less of a burden on my parents: Ola High School. It was here where my obstacles would begin and mold me into the person I am today mentally and physically.

As a freshman, I would play on the varsity team. While playing on varsity for Ola, I split time on the junior varsity team whenever we would play our region rivals and needed to win. This would hold to form as our JV team was playing Union Grove High School, our top rival. The coach wanted me to pitch against Union Grove. However, in the second inning, I took a line drive off of my left ankle, breaking my ankle and ending my season. As a fourteen year-old, this was the first injury I ever had in baseball. I spent lots of time on my rehab to get back to one-hundred percent. I eventually did, but this would be the first of a long lists of setbacks I would experience.

My sophomore year I separated my shoulder blade and was out for the year once again. After this happened, I was crushed mentally, two of my four years of high school down the drain. Coming off the shoulder blade injury, I was ready for a big junior season and looking forward to the recruiting process. I was in great physical and mental shape but unfortunately lightning would strike a third time. Just two days before the season opener, I contract both strands of the flu and I am out for half of the season. After recovering, my body weight dropped from a healthy one-hundred and ninety-five pounds, to a weak one-hundred and sixty pounds, a shell of what I once was. This was again crushing for me mentally, again discrediting all of the hard work I put in to get to this point. After getting my weight back up and getting my arm back, half the season was gone and I found myself at the bottom of the barrel in terms of playing time.

Because of my lack of playing time in my first three years, I was very underrecruited with most division one schools already finished recruiting my graduating class. Due to this lack of interest, my high school coaches wrote me off and concentrated their energy on younger and higher recruited players in my school. This was tough for me mentally because I felt as if my coaches and teammates did not have my back in a time of need. I felt like my coaches and teammates did not believe I could cut it. I began to develop trust issues and opened my eyes to who I kept in my circle socially. I began to question my own abilities and it impacted my play on the field, always worried if I made a mistake, I would not see the field for another month. This took its toll on my mental health.

Due to my lack of interest from college coaches and my high school coaches doing little to help, I was forced to do what high school athletes should never do: get myself recruited. I committed myself to getting recruited. I emailed every school at every division along multiple states all over the United States with a copy of my video highlights. A vast majority of the schools did not respond, but I did get emails back from several high level schools. I went on visits, acquired interest, and received scholarship offers. Out of all the interest I received, I ultimately chose Piedmont for two reasons: I wanted to go to a place where I felt wanted, and I wanted to win. With Piedmont being one of the best division III schools in the entire nation, it was an easy decision.

This is how I have arrived to where I am today. Through hard work and determination, I never let the injuries or setbacks define me. I continued to use them as a tool to motivate me even more towards my ultimate goal of reaching the Major Leagues. This roller-coaster ride has taught me to be mentally tough keep a tight circle. As Gucci Mane would say, ” You’re either with me or against me or you’re in my way.”.

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