This past academic semester some amazing students from the University of Missouri’s TRIO program were challenged to write blog pieces that relate pop culture, student development and leadership. We will be featuring the winners, selected by our Trill or Not Trill staff.

The New York Yankees 2017 season wasn’t expected to go that well. Everyone thought their team was too young, and that they needed a few more years to be a serious contender.

But then…right out of the gate they began to prove everyone wrong, thanks in large part to one player; Aaron Judge.

Usually people don’t expect much from a rookie. It’s their first year; they should be learning the ropes and taking a back seat to the guys that have been doing this a while. Kind of how you are expected to be in your freshman year of college. No one expects you to be a leader. However, that just gives you the chance to prove everyone wrong.

The idea that you can’t do much in your first year is pretty ridiculous. Rookie athletes are proving this wrong all across baseball and other sports teams. Aaron Judge took the Yankees all the way to the American League Championship Series, Cody Bellinger played a big role in getting the Dodgers all the way to the world series, Lonzo Ball is selling out stadiums for the LA Lakers, and Ben Simmons has shown he won’t back down to anyone for the Philadelphia 76ers.

None of these guys are able to do these things because they came in nervous and just hoping to get by. They came in hungry, looking to make a difference, and that is just what they did. Like them, you have no reason to be timid. Get out there early on. Join a club, compete in a talent show, be an RA, do whatever you can to get out ahead. Being a freshman doesn’t limit you as much as you think, just as much as you allow it to.

Just because you have stepped up as a leader doesn’t mean you will always be perfect, nobody is. Don’t allow people to bring you down about your failures. Aaron Judge, who had just arguably had the best rookie season ever, fell flat on his face to start the playoffs. He didn’t get a hit in any of his first ten at-bats, striking out 9 of them. Finally, in game 4 of the series he came up with two men on base, and all eyes on him. Losing this game would have meant the Yankees pack up and go home for the year. The pressure was really on, and he didn’t let any of his failures over the past few games cloud his mind. He turned on a pitch and smacked it off of the left field wall to score two; just like that the Yankees were right back in it. They won that game, and the next one, to march right on to the championship series. We will all have rough times, especially in our first year, but we can’t let that hold us back from being the leader we can be.

The biggest part of Aaron Judge’s game all year long was his ability to hit the ball out of the park. The worst part of it was his propensity to strike out. Some people might look at that second part as a knock to what he has accomplished, but in reality it just shows what kind of person he is.

Every time Judge was at the plate, he would swing for the fences. Sure there would be some big misses, but what we remember him for is the big hits. That is how you ought to take your freshman year. Take some chances, swing hard, miss a few times, you will eventually do something amazing.


EJ Stephens