During my freshman fall, I emailed a member of the Rice baseball staff to get information about an open position to be the manager of the baseball team. I distinctly remember sitting in my room one afternoon going over how to frame the email so that it would come across as this perfect mix of professionalism, excitement and maturity.

The man who would become my future boss, Daniel Watson, was prompt in his response and was almost as excited as I was. I quickly found out that he had been a four-year manager himself. After attending a meeting with him and the coaching staff the next day, I knew in my heart I had to accept the position. Now, three years later, I’m still here and I’m not ready to give up my position just yet. As my fourth and final season approaches, I’ve been thinking about the most memorable times from the past three years. This takes me back to the story of that first meeting.

I walked into that first meeting extremely naïve, not knowing what to expect when I got to meet Watson, the assistant coaching staff, and of course, the legendary Coach Graham. I knew enough about Graham and the Rice baseball program to get by but I still had much to learn and obviously wanted to make a good impression. That was when coach Graham asked me a question that I had to respond to on the fly: He said something along the lines of, “What would you say are two most important traits that one needs in order to be successful in this game?” I blurted out a response similar to, “Well, I think if you have the passion for the game and the experience to go along with it, you can be…” and that was when coach Graham cut me off. He looked at me and said that the two things he was looking for from my response were passion and experience. He also said that the job was mine if I were to accept it.

I always love retelling that story because it symbolizes, at least in my own mind, that I was meant to do this job from the first moment I stepped onto campus. There had been no vacancy in the student manager role for years prior and it just so happened that two different students were unable to return to work that season for various reasons, thus opening the window of opportunity for me. In addition, I had welcoming and accepting upperclassmen to bring me in. They made me feel as if I was part of the team the first day I stepped on the field. While passion and experience were the two answers Graham was hoping for, there was also a good deal of perfect timing and a perfect fit involved.

That is the lesson I want to share with others as well. Everything played out just right for me when I simply sent an email, took a chance, and in turn, I now have even more passion for the game I love and far more experience than I ever did when I first signed up. While this game utilizes passion and experience to determine wins and losses, our everyday lives are also made up of wins and losses. And every Rice student has within themselves, the ability to “win” or to do things that better their future or the futures of those around them. And these daily victories come about because of the passion each individual has within themselves and the motivation to keep going.

Therefore it is of utmost importance to follow our passions from one year to the next, and seek out the experiences that will mold us into the best versions of ourselves that we can be both at Rice and beyond. Rice baseball has been a second home to me, and I can confidently say I am a much better man because of my time spent here. The only thing that remains is to enjoy the conclusion of a fantastic journey alongside my teammates and hope for a season to remember.