The last couple of months have been an unprecedented time for everybody with the spread of COVID-19, and in our case it has been especially trying for our players who have had their spring baseball season taken away from them, school moved to an online format, and their social lives as teenagers drastically altered. We were interested in hearing from a handful of our guys on how they have spent their time at home, lessons they have learned through the process, and their thoughts on some of pieces of pop culture that have given us all some sort of entertainment.
Jesse Conrad is a special young player, who will likely camp out Friday night and be the first one in the building when we open up on Saturday morning, and then fight us when we tell him he’s got to leave at some point. In a word, Jesse is a Rat, the type of kid who will spend entire days at the facility working on his game and love every minute of it. Jesse was slated to be the Varsity catcher at Chaparral HS this spring, an important role with an inexperienced pitching staff needing guidance and leadership. While just a sophomore, Jesse is already developing into a strong leader, who uses his actions as the example but is not afraid to tell guys what is up when need be. This is a rare trait for a player so young, however an important one for somebody who does his work behind the plate. Jesse is the definition of a #RogueGuy, as he is involved in almost everything that we do at the facility, including hitting in our groups, working with coach Stout on the catching side, as our varsity catcher at Colorado Rogue in the summer and fall, and hanging around constantly to catch bullpens for anybody needing work. Jesse’s hard work is already paying dividends, and he has a very bright future ahead.
Rogue: What has been your daily routine since you’ve had to stay at home?
Jesse: Once the state put a stay at home order and I heard school was out for the rest of the year I wanted to make sure that I was in shape and getting better throughout this quarantine. I knew all this was possible if I had a proper routine in place to follow. I know I need a good amount of sleep but I didn’t want to be waking up in the middle of the day because that is a waste of time. So I try to get to bed no later than 12:00 pm and I set alarms around 8 but sometimes end up waking up around 9 or 10 which I hope to improve to around 7 or 8 so I can stay productive in the morning and have a good breakfast on time. Once I’m up I brush my teeth, shower, and start breakfast which usually consists of around 6 to 7 eggs with 4 waffles, a protein shake and some sort of fruit. I like to follow the same breakfast every morning to keep things simple. I then check my email for important things that I may have received from my coaches or school. After that I go mess around and shoot hoops or hit off the tee for an hour or two. After that it is usually around lunchtime so I often eat the leftovers from last night’s dinner like today it was chili and rice. After lunch I get together a workout I can follow on my phone. I then go to my garage gym-which I’m very fortunate to have, to workout. After that I go to do my baseball ”practice” which consists of many catchers drills that I have found online. I then hit a few buckets. This workout and practice takes up pretty much all of the afternoon and once I’m finished it’s usually dinner time so I eat and then just chill with my family, go to sleep and then repeat the next day.
Rogue: What kind of baseball goals, if any, did you set for yourself as a player at the beginning of the quarantine?
Jesse: I saw this quarantine as an opportunity to get better so I immediately set some goals for myself. As a player I always want to be bigger, faster and stronger so that goal is already set. I also wanted to improve my mental game, my focus and mental toughness. I also want to be a more elite player behind the plate and as a hitter. Goal #1: Being bigger, faster and stronger. I set this goal not only for quarantine but for the rest of my baseball career because the more strength and speed I gain the better I will be able to perform as a catcher and a hitter which will benefit my team. Goal #2: Improve my mental game, my focus and my mental toughness. This goal is huge to me because of how young I am and my position on the field. Kids my age including myself let our emotions get the best of us which is a huge disadvantage especially as a hitter. The catcher especially needs to get his emotions in check because everything he does reflects to his pitcher and everyone on the rest of the field. My coaches always told me that my emotions have been a problem so if I can improve my mental toughness I will be one step ahead of some of the kids my age. Focus, this is a huge part as a catcher because I not only need to focus on my emotion but also I need to focus on my pitcher’s emotion, how my pitcher acts can contribute to a big part of his performance. Goal #3: Being a more elite player not only behind the plate but as a hitter as well. To me, being more elite is knowing that I am better at every part of the game than my opponent. This means the way I receive the baseball, my pop time, how well I read hitters swings and also my power and ability to adjust at the plate. The only way I can be more elite is if I out work my opponent every day and I see this quarantine as a way to do that.
Rogue: How do you feel you have done in accomplishing these goals?
Jesse: These goals have been a huge contributor to my motivation and they seem to be working because I continue to get up everyday and keep working. I feel that everyday I wake up I am closer and closer to my goals but I feel I will never reach them because there is never any reason to be satisfied or happy with where I am at as a ball player.
Rogue: What has been the most frustrating thing about the last couple of months?
Jesse: The most frustrating part for me has been missing out on the whole season. I just wonder everyday how many memories I missed or how many bombs I could’ve hit that day. But I try to stay as positive as I can because dwelling on something does nothing to benefit me. It also is really frustrating to practice alone. You miss out on the live arm and just interaction creates motivation.
Rogue: What has this whole experience taught you that you can take into the future?
Jesse: This quarantine has taught me a few things but it has taught me most about time. I’ve learned not to take my time for granted. We have so much time and I feel every day that if I don’t use most of it doing something useful like working on baseball then it goes to waste. And I really hate that feeling of wasting time when I know I could’ve used it for something better. Quarantine has also taught how to be more of an independent learner. I am so used to being taught or shown how to do something by a coach. But over the last few weeks I’ve really just been recording myself watching it over frame by frame and correcting it by myself.
Rogue: Have you played more video games, watched more TV, or read more books? Which ones?
Jesse: I’d say I’ve watched more TV and YouTube. I just recently finished a show called “Outer Banks” which was alright. I also watched a movie last night with my family on Netflix called ”Extraction” which was pretty good. Mostly I’ve been watching videos on YouTube and recently came across a guy that does weekly catching videos his YouTube is Catching101. His videos especially have been helping me. I don’t really play video games anymore but I have been working on building a batting cage in my barn. This has taken up quite a bit of time because our barn is not level so I’ve just been digging up dirt and tamping it to try to level it out. It’s hard for me to spend my time watching shows because I get bored so easily.
Rogue: Craziest theory about Carole Baskin’s husband’s disappearance
Jesse: I personally am only about two episodes into “The Tiger King” but she definitely seems crazy and from what I heard I know she for sure whacked him and fed him to tigers.
Rogue: Favorite quote from “The Last Dance”
Jesse: “The Last Dance” is an outstanding show, I love it so far. I’ve always looked up to MJ and he will always be someone I look up to, especially how hard he worked. My favorite quote from the show is from Dennis Rodman “Baseketball is simple. It’s a simple game. But when you leave this confined zone, it’s hard. It’s hard.” I think this applies to any sport because every sport is really simple until you make it more complicated than it has to be. This can also apply to just life in general.