One of the ways that my job brings me a sense of pride is when athletes I cover in high school or college make it to the next level. As I’ve said before, it provides a “I knew that band before it was famous” type of mentality. That was exactly the case this past week when a few kids from our coverage area were taken in the MLB Draft.

Two of them – Justin Slaten and Connor Reich are from Hallsville High School and Casey Combs just finished up at ETBU.

Slaten was picked in the third round by the Texas Rangers and as a Rangers fan, I would love to one day be able to watch my team with the former Bobcat on the mound. Reich was drafted in the 31st round by the Chicago White Sox and Combs just four rounds earlier by the Miami Marlins. Even though I watch those teams a lot less, it would bring me great joy to see them play in the majors knowing I had seen them long before most baseball fans.

Obviously, they have a long way to go before that time comes and they know it. A very small percentage of guys selected in the MLB draft actually make it to the pros but that’s no reason to give up, in fact, quite the contrary. Knowing most don’t play for an MLB squad should serve as motivation to rise above and beat the odds rather than use it as an excuse to throw in the towel.

It’s easy to look at the local kids who are drafted and think, “They’ll never make it,” but even with the low percentage of those who do, someone has to, so why not hope and believe that kids we watched in high school and before actually have what it takes?

East Texas is full of talented athletes and I’m glad that people like Y.A. Tittle, Earl Campbell, Chris Davis and others didn’t give up on their dreams of making it to the big leagues. They didn’t let the low odds discourage them.

You can’t ever fault someone for at least trying and even if one is unsuccessful at making it to the pros, that doesn’t mean it was a failed attempt. There are several lessons to be learned from the journey that can be applied to other areas of life.

If I had been blessed with the talent and athleticism to play college and pro sports, I would have at least taken a shot rather than giving up and asking myself the “what ifs.”

As much pride as I got this week from seeing local athletes drafted by MLB franchises, I know it brings coaches and communities that much more pride. Hallsville head coach Scott Mitchell said it’s like having a proud dad moment and ETBU head baseball coach Jared Hood said he was “on Cloud Nine.”

Obviously, it goes without saying those who make it have an extreme sense of pride, as they should, for accomplishing something only a handful of people do and hopefully it’s just the beginning.