From Division 1 to Division None: How a Drunk Driver Changed My Course

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I thought the day would come when baseball scouts noticed me, when I’d receive the acceptance letter to my dream school and when I’d sign to play Division I baseball, a day I’d dreamed of since childhood. But November 29, 2015 came instead. And that day, at about three in the morning, everything changed and world turned upside down.

As I drove home from Black Friday shopping on November 29, a drunk driver entered the highway from a ramp and smashed into my car.

My car rammed into the divider and sat in the middle of the road. I looked up with very blurred vision and could see smoke rising from the engine. A man later came and pulled me out of the car to the side of the road.

Next thing I know, I woke up in a hospital bed with my parents holding my hand. Scarily enough, the cuts and bruises all over my head, face and chest did not compare to the worst news.

I found out that I showed signs of a severe concussion and extreme nerve damage in my upper and lower back, damages that the doctors told me will never fully heal… something that will hinder my abilities for life. Following the months and months of rehab, I realized the doctor’s words rang true. The doctors and physical therapists did their part of things, but I still wasn’t myself.

Bucknell, Lehigh and Radford—the three Division I schools that offered me partial scholarships to play at a higher level—stopped by to check in on me. I tried to keep my spirits up but it quickly faded when they asked me to come to their schools for physicals. All my dreams to play D1 baseball rode on the outcomes of these tests.

With no surprise, I failed the physicals. My body just couldn’t handle day-to-day demands of an athlete. Because of my unknown performance in the future, three schools withdrew their offers from me. I lost everything.

No words can describe how the next few weeks went for me. My emotions swung from high to low in the snap of a finger. It made no difference, whether at school with my friends or at home watching a movie with my parents. Everyone tried to talk to me but nothing could change the emotions in my head.

I scrambled in my last semester of senior year to figure out what school I wanted to attend. I ended up going to Temple University as a student in the fall instead of a student-athlete.

The stories that get told in movies and books are ones of triumph. That’s not always the case for most people. I’ve had great experiences at Temple so far. I have no regrets about choosing this prestigious school. I am blessed that this university allows for me to at least combine my love for sports with my career through sports journalism.

I wake up every day motivated by my past to keep pursuing my career. The past pops into my mind sometimes but then I see something that makes me beyond thrilled that I am at Temple. I write for multiple publications at the university and meet so many amazing people covering stories. I worked in the press box to cover Phillies games, Flyers games and Sixers games. I went down into the locker room and met players and coaches at post-game press conferences. I witnessed the first Super Bowl victory for the Philadelphia Eagles and the madness that happened storming Broad Street.

These memories may not be on a baseball field or in a locker room with teammates but they are incredible. These memories, I will hold near and dear to me and cherish them forever. As long as I keep having these experiences and adventures, the what ifs stay irrelevant.

I am currently a junior at Temple University. I am majoring in Journalism. I aspire to be a Broadcast Journalist in the sports field.

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