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HSBN Scholarship Essay Entry: Nelson Berkwich

Nelson Berkwich was a Player of the Year candidate when his season was cut short.

Nelson Berkwich, #11, from the American Heritage Stallions, is a pitcher that graduates with the class of 2020. Nelson was 4-0, and had an ERA of zero when his season was cut short. As a possible Player of the Year candidate, he gave us some insight into what the past few months have meant to him.

Essay:

“To me there are two things in this world, there’s life and there’s baseball, and one helps you get
through the other.” -Jerry Seinfeld

I can’t even remember a day when baseball wasn’t a part of my life. For as long as I can remember, I have had an innate passion for the game. I think back to days in elementary school, when I would stand in my dining room facing the mirror and go over my pitching mechanics for hours and hours.

When I step back and take a look at how far I’ve come from those moments, it’s extremely humbling. I feel a strong sense of gratitude for the lessons this game has taught me, the relationships I have cultivated, and the thrilling emotions I have experienced.

When I’m on the field, I feel like I’m still a little kid. There’s no pressure when I go out there, regardless of the amount of fans, scouts, or how high the stakes are. When I step on the mound, I find myself in a mindset of total focus and pure bliss.

I get to just be a little kid playing the game I love with my best friends. Who could ask for more than that?

The COVID-19 outbreak hit us all fast and unexpectedly. I would have never even imagined my senior season to end this way. It felt like just yesterday, I was thirteen years old and standing on top of the mound at Picow Family Stadium.

This sudden halt in our season really made me look back and realize how special this journey had been. I had literally grown up on that mound. For five years, I gave my everything to our baseball team and we had some pretty special moments on that field.

I didn’t want to believe it was over. I wanted to wake up from this nightmare. It just didn’t feel real.

You work so hard day in and day out, and then without your control, it’s all taken away from you. It was really hard to accept that there was a possibility that I would never play alongside my best friends again.

Our team had such a rare bond. I spent more time with my teammates than my own family some weeks. We practiced together, trained together, ate together, played video games together, etc., all as one cohesive unit.

For the first few days after we got the news, I felt numb and sorry for myself. I thought, ‘This is
extremely unfair. They’re taking away MY senior season. How could they do this?’ It took me about a week to see this scenario for what it is.

I could dwell on the negatives, or I could turn this into a great opportunity for myself. I have so much more time on my hands now during this quarantine; it would be a disservice to myself, my teammates, my coaches, my family, and all the people who have invested in me to let it go to waste.

I decided to turn this into a period of growth, when the whole world was dwelling in pity and confusion. I figured out ways to still workout and train and started to read more, and work on the mental side of my game.

Once I took a step back and soaked all of this in, it took me a few weeks, but I learned some really valuable lessons about myself and my life. Life moves so fast and many people are so used to instant gratification, that many times they don’t live in the present and are just thinking about what’s next.

The last few months, my senior year, I fell into this trap. I learned that I need to cherish all the great moments I have with my friends and family. I took small things for granted like going to workout at the gym with my friends, hanging out at the beach, or even going out to dinner at a restaurant.

When all these things are taken away from you, you start to realize how many things you overlook and don’t appreciate. Moving forward, I will focus more on enjoying the present and appreciating the smaller aspects of my life that bring me joy.

Relating this to baseball, I think all players have to realize how fast our career can come to an end. Even
if I play for 10 or 20 more years, I have no doubt that time will fly by. In the future, I am going to be grateful to play baseball every time I step on the field and give it my all, because there are no second chances and I need to make the most of my opportunities.

A coach once told me “a true champion is not defined by his victories or defeats, but his reaction to adversity.”

It has been unique, and difficult at some times, but I think this period of adaptation of my commonplace routine has helped me grow stronger and will benefit me in the future.

I’m proud of my teammates, my family, and myself because this is difficult for each and everyone of us, but we are all managing to get through it. Numerous times, I have read and I’ve heard that the obstacle is the opportunity, but now I experienced this.

In not just baseball, but in life, it’s inevitable to experience setbacks. When you start seeing obstacles as an opportunity to challenge yourself and grow, that is when you will see true growth.

When times get tough, as they surely will at some point in everyone’s baseball career, that is the time you need to be strongest.

COVID-19 isn’t a roadblock, it’s a speed bump. There’s still a whole lot of road ahead and I’m eager to get back on the field and play the game that I love again.

Editors Note: Seniors wanting to enter the competition, follow the link below:

HSBN Senior Essay Scholarship Competition

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