Our confessions.
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Our confessions.

I was 11 years old when I toured Turner Field.

We were on a short family vacation to Atlanta for spring break. To this day I still remember the views of looking down on the field from the press box and sitting in the plush leather media chairs during the stadium tour. It was the day after a home game. A piece of scratch paper they took notes on from the night before was crumpled in a small trash bin at the door. My curious kid mind snagged it and carried it all the way back to Florida with me. I glued it to a page in my “Atlanta Braves Trip” section of the scrapbook I was making once we got home.

I placed a photo of us sitting in the dugout next to that trashed paper of scribbles. And another of me sitting in Ted Turner’s box seats on the other side of it. I remember thinking, “I’ll sit here one day for real.” Dreaming those big, mostly unrealistic dreams that kids do.

It seemed completely tangible to me at the time.

We went to batting practice before that night’s game. I got to pick out a jersey from the gift shop. I chose Javy’s. We ate all of the ballpark goodies that night. We ran the bases in the outfield kid area and helped push the wave around the stadium a few times.

Our seats were on the first base line, just to the right of the dugout, about midway up. I remember Andruw Jones up to bat. The stadium was hyped. Foul ball to our side of the stands. Everyone was on their feet, arms in the air, waiting to catch it. The closest thing to being a part of the team that any of us would feel in our lifetime.

It was a good night. An exciting night!

I remember leaving the field with a sense of fulfillment. Odd right?

But at eleven, I knew that I had witnessed something special just then. It’s a core memory for me that to this day, still brings a smile to my face. The cheers of that stadium wrapped around me like a warm hug of comfort.

I still get those same warm and fuzzies today when I walk through the gates of a field.

Fast forward eleven years… to my own field of dreams beginning to take root.

Kevin and I met at a UWF basketball game the spring of my junior year.

He was there as part of his athletic duties to support other sports.

And I was desperate need of a night out with my girlfriends for a fresh start. A free basketball game seemed like the best choice that night.

Turns out, it was.

We started dating two weeks later.

Valentine’s Day was our first “official” date.

His senior season began right around that same time and seemed to end just as quickly as it began. He signed with a local independent team just days after his collegiate days were over.

Two weeks after his debut with them, he was drafted.

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim chose him in the 20th round.

He got on a plane three days later.

And that was that.

He was in rookie ball. Officially a professional baseball player in the minor leagues. And I was here. Finishing up my degree and wondering what in the world I was going to do now? I knew I wasn’t about to waste another second waiting on a guy. But I also knew the life of a minor leaguer wasn’t all roses. Was that really something I wanted to dive into?

Walking away from him felt impossible.

But staying seemed just as crazy.

I visited him in August after her got settled and into a routine in Orem. I boarded that plane knowing it was the trip that would determine our fate. Maybe I could do this whole long-distance thing. Or maybe I couldn’t. I prayed the Lord would “give me a sign” so I’d know what to do with this dreamlike reality I found myself in.

The team had an off day while I was there. If you’re familiar with minor league life you know that in itself was a rare gem.

We went to a waterfall on the side of the road and did the touristy thing with photos. Then, stopped by some hot springs that the locals frequented. And then headed to Sundance Resort to ride up the mountain on a ski lift and take in all that Utah had to offer in the heat of August. For us Florida kids, that was a sight!

At the top of the mountain was a sign posted in the rock. “Maverick” with an arrow pointing right in a blue box symbolizing a more difficult trail was the top sign. And underneath it in grey with a diamond symbolizing most difficult read “Wedding Ring.”

He says it was completely unplanned. I knew it wasn’t.

On the way back down the mountain I was busy taking photos of the scenery while he was busy getting a ring out of his pocket and mustering up the confidence to speak.

“What are you doing for the rest of your life?” he asked.

Me, completely oblivious to the engagement ring he was holding out, “I don’t know but this would be.” I stopped my sentence because my eyes caught its glimmer as I turned to answer him. I looked down. Looked up. “Yes. This is what I’m doing for the rest of my life.”

And that was that. 

We got married that December, a full 11 months after we met. And we’ll celebrate 12yrs of marriage this weekend.

It’s been a whirlwind. Like any good game of baseball should be.

We spent 5 more years playing ball professionally after that rookie season. Four of them were in the Angels farm leagues and the final was an indy team out of Illinois.

I never travelled with him because we couldn’t afford it. So, I stayed home and worked in property management, visiting him when I could. He played in every level of the farm system. Received a non-roster invite to big league spring training. Was often used as a JIC (just in case) guy in big league spring training games. And had the amazing opportunity to pitch in the Freeway Series against the Dodgers in 2012 at Dodger Stadium.

Everything seemed to be going in a positive direction with quick momentum.

Or so we thought.

During the 2014 spring training he called to tell me he was going to the big league side again. He was so excited and relieved. Feeling accomplished and ready. Everything he had been working for was right there at his fingertips, yet again.

I answered completely devastated sitting in a gown on a table at my doctor’s office.

In his moment of fulfillment, I was empty. Broken.

The heartbeat he left behind in my womb was no longer viable.

That was a turning point in our marriage and in his career.

Looking back, we didn’t realize it at the time. But that’s when something within us began to stir.

The goal up to then had been to make the big league roster. Whatever sacrifices it took to get there, we’d do it. If it meant we continued spending 8 months apart and 4 months together, so be it. If we had to stay on the never ending merry-go-round of “stay by your phone, tonight’s your call” moments, we’d ride that emotional rollercoaster again and again.

But walking that miscarriage journey over 1700 miles apart changed our goal. It changed us.

Suddenly, it wasn’t about being on the big league roster.

It was about being together. Building a family. Making a difference.

That entire 2014 season we broke in more ways than one.

And in that wreckage, He began to rebuild.

Our hearts surrendered that year. And so did our fleshly desires. One will was sought. His.

We began to talk about life after playing. What would it look like? What would we do? And we began making plans for when that happened. Of course, hoping it wouldn’t be soon. But equally accepting if it was. Up until that season, retirement and life after ball was never mentioned. Never considered.

Kevin left for spring training, again, in February of 2015.

I will never forget the call he made one morning just a few weeks later. It was the very last day of rostering for all MLB teams. He was coming home. “I’ll see you soon, babe. I’ve been released.”

I was 6 months pregnant with our daughter.

Distraught. Completely bewildered at the fact my husband’s cleats were no longer going to hang in that halo locker room. But equally and completely at peace even though I should have been frantic.

He’d just lost his job. I’m having a baby in t-minus 12 weeks. We just moved into our home. He’s 1700+ miles away and needs to drive back home safely to be with us. Every single MLB team was full at that point in the season, so opportunities in affiliated ball were nonexistent.

Despite all of that, we were content.

We were confident and hopeful of the things we had not yet seen.

Because we knew who was going before us. We knew who was leading us.

This moment had not caught Him off guard.

And we had been prepared for it.

We did yard work when he got home in our front flowerbeds. It seemed logical at the time.

Truth be told, he was doing the yard work and I was steadily eating my ice cream that sat comfortably on my growing belly as I directed where to put each new pot of plants and flowers.

As I sat there on the piled up bags of mulch watching him silently replant our view, he got a phone call from an indy ball coach. He had an opportunity, and it was Kevin’s if he wanted it.

Pitching for the Normal Cornbelters in Normal, Illinois was potentially the next check on his resume. After spending a couple days praying over it, he packed the Camry for the last time, and I stayed home to finish the ice cream and continue planting that new view he started.

Our girl was born during their all-star break, so Kevin was able to be home with us. He arrived just days before my due date and little one gave us a few extra days to savor before her entrance. He spent one night with us in the hospital. One night with us at home. And then left for the remainder of the season, coming back home when she was 2 months old.

While there, he got an opportunity to be a leader. He was one of the only guys that had been in affiliated ball and he was called upon to help coach the pitchers even though he was a player.

I remember calling him one day to check in. He told me he was writing out a business plan. Surprising to me, because we didn’t have a business.

When my hormonal “uhm, what the heck are you making a business plan for” self-asked he said, “I’m done after this. I’m opening an academy.”

An academy? Why an academy?

“Because I want to give players an opportunity to learn the things I have. To have access to the knowledge I’ve been given at the levels I’ve played so they can reach their own goals.”

And now here we are.

Four years of being a collegiate student athlete.

Six years of professional ball.

Seven years of coaching it at the youth levels.

Two kids, two dogs and the same house later – blessed.

We don’t claim to know it all, but we do know some.

We’ve seen a lot on the collegiate fields as a player and coach, the professional fields as a player and employee, the travel ball fields as a coach and helping direct tournaments and now the rec fields as our kids begin to play.

Some of it good. Some of it not.

We often get asked questions privately from other parents and friends who have kids playing. Parents looking for advice or encouragement as they help their players and themselves navigate the beast that is youth baseball.

Parents who don’t want to have all of the worlds ridicule or have their concerns belittled by fellow “experts” on social media. Parents that want sound, unbiased advice on ways to overcome the hurdle in front of their player. Not just confirmation others have dealt with the same because whatever it is, is “normal.” Normal and right are not equivalent here.

A perspective that sometimes has to give hard truths or call out the nonsense – wrapped in grace, of course – because at the end of the day it’s not about us. It’s about them.

& Thus, Dugout Confessions is born.

Baseball has always been a part of Kevin’s life. In a lot of ways, you could say the same for me.

We often joke that we’re both married to the game in different ways.

Our hope with sharing our story is that it plants seeds of encouragement and inspiration for those also living life on the diamond.

A collection of the amazing things we’ve experienced.

The hard lessons we’ve learned.

The things we would do differently.

And our hope for the future of the game.

We’re excited to share!

We hope you laugh. Find relatability. And maybe even shed a few tears.

This is our story.
These are our confessions.