Sunday, February 27, 2011


As I begin this new and wonderful baseball season – there are a couple things that come to mind. Every year that I have been with Vanderbilt Baseball, we have opened the season on the road – west coast style (btw it has rained every year).

This is the first thing that is in the back of my mind when we hit the road for a game or weekend series. I am representing Vanderbilt Baseball and the University (and the Medical Center) – it is very apparent when everyone steps off the bus wearing matching travel shirts.

The players around me are a representation of our head coach. In my experience, there is a direct correlation between how the players are coached and managed and how they act when they are on the road for a baseball trip. I can’t speak for any professional organizations – but every professional athlete still represents their organization.

There have been many occasions when I am heading in to work a baseball game or even heading home from a ballgame wearing my team issued gear (trust me – people know the difference between team issued gear and gear at the store), when someone has asked me if I work for the baseball team.
More times than not, I will be a forgotten face in the line while I am grabbing a soda on the way home. However, if I were making a scene or causing a problem, they would probably remember the guy in the store that was wearing the Vanderbilt baseball gear. This has worked the other way as well – every year the baseball team participates in a charity walk and the people have this positive image of the players and the coaching staff.

The next time that you are on a trip remember what you actually represent. You represent your parents, coaches, teammates, school or university, and baseball as a whole – people do stereotype what kind of athlete you are. Yes, I know it’s a sad generalization, but once people have a bad experience with one particular type of something, they remember it for a long time (similar to a bad experience with food).

I am not saying that you need to be a prude when you are walking around your hometown, but remember that there are people that come to the ballpark to watch you play. You can be a competitor on the field, but a great person off. Remember you are representing a lot of different things.

Chris Ham, MSA, ATC, CES
Athletic Trainer
Vanderbilt University Baseball

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