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.
TJ Rheem is one of the hardest working players we have had the pleasure to coach, as we have seen him grow into a great athlete and legitimate college prospect. TJ is currently a junior at Chaparral High School and was poised to make a major impact as a position player and on the mound at CHS this spring. TJ has played for Colorado Rogue Baseball Club the last two summers, as well as being a staple in our throwing program and our high school hitting groups, as well as in the weight room at Push Performance. TJ is a model of consistency, hard work, and positivity and has become a leader amongst his peers.
Rogue: What has been your daily routine since you’ve had to stay at home?
TJ: Once this quarantine started, I knew a routine had to be put into place. I didn’t want my days to become a free-for-all with all the time I had, so I have been following a flexible schedule. First of all this has been a good time to catch up on sleep, I try to go to bed pretty early, and wake up around 8. Grab some coffee, take a shower and grind out my school work. I end up getting most of my schoolwork for the week done on Monday morning. I set up a pretty cool home gym with a net, tee, and lots of equipment that Push Performance was very fortunate to lend to me. I take lots of swings, throw into the net or play long toss, and follow the at-home workout program that Push programmed for me. This takes up most of the afternoon. During the evening I will eat dinner, and spend lots of time with my family. This is a time where I’m able to catch up with my parents since normally I’m very busy. I’ve taken advantage of this time in making a schedule and getting my work in efficiently.
Rogue: What kind of baseball goals, if any, did you set for yourself as a player at the beginning of the quarantine?
TJ: There were 3 main goals I set for this quarantine that I am motivated by every day: 1) Get ahead in the college recruiting process, 2) Get huge 3) Stay positive and motivated. As soon as the national shut down was put in place, it clicked that many coaches will be sitting around wondering what to do. I grabbed both my parents and filmed a video, ground balls, swing video, and some bullpen footage. I put together a list of colleges that I am interested in, and sent it out. I knew I would be getting ahead, and wanted to create relationships with these coaches so when we can play again, there would already be a friendship formed. The second one is pretty self explanatory. I knew this time would give me a chance to focus on my physical ability. I haven’t missed a workout since this has started, and I don’t plan on it (for however this lasts). This doesn’t just include lifting/throwing/hitting, but also nutrition and sleep. I have focused on eating only things with nutritional value, and making sure to sleep so I could be ready. Rogue Baseball has also been huge for me during this time. They provided me with an at home throwing program which has helped, and all of the coaches have been great mentors for me. It’s the last 6 months of me training with them that have taught me many lessons and helped me to be where I am now. It’s given me a good reason to go off the grid so to speak, and to focus on myself. The last one I put into place to make sure I stayed in good spirits. Being negative can be a downfall especially when I’m stuck in the house. The combination of these three things has given me an opportunity to get ahead of the game and be ready for when we go back to normal.
Rogue: How do you feel you have done in accomplishing those goals?
TJ: These goals were very reasonable and realistic, but also gave me a chance to push myself. I have been successful in keeping up with them. Me knowing that I am outworking someone gives me more motivation, or when I feel down I think the opposite. I tell myself, “Someone else is working while I’m not” and this instantly changes my mood.
Rogue: What has been the most frustrating thing about the last couple of months?
TJ: The worst thing about these last couple months is the lack of social contact I’ve been able to get. I am a very social person and my positive energy raises when I am able to be around my teammates/buddies. Zoom calls just aren’t the same. At least it’s something, but it’s not the same as playing spikeball with all my friends or taking batting practice before a game with all my teammates. Another frustrating thing was the cancellation of the high school spring season. Even though I have one more year, I was excited to show all of my work that I’ve put in over the offseason. Baseball also makes me really happy, so it was a bummer to have to stop my momentum.
Rogue: What has this whole experience taught you that you can take into the future?
TJ: Something that I’ve learned how to do is value my time. With all of this free time, I’ve been able to figure out what is important to spend my time on, and what I can do without. Once this quarantine ends, things are going to be very busy again, and know I know what I need to spend my time on and work on. I’ve also learned that no matter how bad the circumstances are, something good will always come out of it. Fortunately I’ve been blessed with lots of gear and space to get things done which is a bonus. I will come out of this ahead of where I was before this thing started, even in this unfortunate event.
Rogue: Have you played more video games, watched more TV, or read more books? Which games, shows or books?
TJ: I’ve been playing a lot of MLB The Show, trying to get my baseball fix in. I haven’t really played a lot of video games unless all my friends are playing. Once I start playing games by myself or binging shows I lose interest pretty fast. I’ve been watching some shows with my family: All American, American Idol, Last dance, etc. Even though I don’t have anywhere to go, my days fly by so watching TV and playing games are my last priority.
Rogue: Give us your craziest theory about the disappearance of Carole Baskin’s husband.
TJ: I haven’t seen Tiger King, but I’ve heard lots about it, maybe I’ll try to get a few episodes in. If I were to watch it this could change, but I am a believer that Carole did kill her husband and feed him to the tigers. With no evidence of the body and her pointing out methods to entice the tigers, it’s a very possible outcome. And she’s just insane.
Rogue: What’s your favorite quote from The Last Dance?
TJ: The Last Dance is one of my favorite shows of all time so far. I love sports documentaries and this one has not disappointed. Michael Jordan is for sure the best Basketball player of all time, the stats are insane, and his style of play is unmatchable. My favorite quote is said by Roy Williams, “Michael Jordan’s the only player that could ever turn it on and off, and he never freakin’ turned it off.” It just shows how much of a grinder he was, and he was always going 110%.