Charlie O’Mealy tried out for River Dell’s baseball team as a freshman and was hit by the three-letter word that every athlete fears:
He was more than disappointed. He had worked so hard to prepare. And his parents had dedicated so much of their time to help him.
Yet O’Mealy refused to let the pain of being C-U-T stop him.
“Never give up,” O’Mealy said. “It’s just a bump in the road. You should use it as motivation, and you should carry on and you should just work harder. You shouldn’t get down on yourself. You can always come back.”
Now a junior, O’Mealy has reaped the rewards of two years of working on his pitching, hitting and fielding. After a sophomore year spent on junior varsity, he is a pitcher and outfielder on the River Dell varsity.
“We always encourage kids to ‘Go get better and come back and give it another shot,’” River Dell baseball coach Brandon Flanagan said.
Even some world-class athletes were cut from teams during their younger years. The most famous example is Michael Jordan, arguably the best player in NBA history, who as a sophomore in 1978 was cut from his varsity basketball team. He then went home and cried.
‘Give it another shot’
Players should not be deterred by an initial C-U-T, say coaches and athletic directors interviewed for this first in a series of stories by NorthJersey.com and The Record focusing on dealing with cuts, playing time and injuries.
Instead, players should speak with their coaches and find out what they need to work on to get better for the following season.
“You definitely try and provide some constructive criticism for how they might be able to improve their game and have a better chance of making it the following year,” said Denis Nelson, River Dell’s athletic director and a former coach.
“And the message is always, ‘I applaud you for coming out for the team, and I give you credit,’” said Greg Butler, Northern Valley at Demarest athletic director and a former coach. “Because for the person who doesn’t even try out, they never have an opportunity to succeed, or to make the team.”
Cresskill oversees its middle school programs, and coaches try to meet with players who don’t make the team.
“The head coach would go down and work with the middle-school coach to evaluate,” said Beth Del Vecchio, Cresskill’s athletic director and a former coach and AD at Paramus Catholic.
“And then they would meet with the kids, and that’s how they would learn whether they made the team or not. And at the same time, they would talk about strengths, weaknesses, and those kids who didn’t make it, talk about some things they can do between now and next year if they want to try out again.”