Septembre Russell – Copy chief.
“I like to think of my injury as one of the better things that ever happened to me,” Brown said. “I think with [it], I’ve grown so much physically that now I’m at a different level than I ever thought I could be.”
Sentiments such as these coming from an athlete are typically unheard of, yet senior baseballer Kelson Brown cannot help but remain optimistic when recalling his season-shortening injury.
The senior from LaCanada, Calif., who has been playing baseball since he was eight years old, said that during his first two years on the Linfield baseball team, he sat on the bench.
“I didn’t play at all, really,” Brown said. “I pitched a little, but I didn’t really have a position.”
Earning a starting spot as shortstop his junior year, Brown played exceptionally until he was diagnosed with a lower back strain. The injury stemmed from overuse, Brown said. He partially attributes the onset of his back injury to fielding groundballs.
He was on standby for 25 games — that’s more than half a season, he said.
“Going to practice everyday and watching games from the bench, knowing that [I could not] contribute, was hard for me,” Brown said.
Fortunately, his injury did not impede his sports career. Brown registered for summer baseball in January, before sustaining his injury. He was already on the roster, he said.
Brown grappled with whether he should play or stay behind and improve his health.
“I decided to tough it out, and it was big because I figured out how to use my body in a way that I wouldn’t get injured,” he said. “[The injury] opened my eyes to new ways of training, ways to keep my body in better shape.
During the time he spent training, Brown said he increased his flexibility and, to refocus the pressure on his lower back, developed his core strength.
His new training regime did not stem from his back injury, Brown said. He was drafted by the Clarinda A’s, an Iowa-based semi-pro team in the M.I.N.K. League, which includes teams from Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas. The league provides an exposure venue for college players before the Major League Baseball Amateur Draft.
In Iowa, Brown said working with people from across the country and witnessing varying weight room routines led him to discover his own rhythm.
“I really started coming up with my own workout plans,” he said.
With the A’s, Brown said he struggled slightly early on with the strain he still felt in his lower back. But sharing the field with Division I and other high-quality talent provided him with a competitive atmosphere, one which enabled him to flourish.
Brown led the A’s to the National Baseball Congress World Series in August; the team reached the final 14 and went 3-2 in the tournament.
At the season’s end, Brown hit .313 and tallied 47 hits in 150 at-bats.
Going semi-pro was comparable to traveling abroad, Brown said, but with a heavy interweaving of sports.
“It was a new experience completely,” he said. “I went in all by myself, taken in by host families in a completely new environment.”
Now, back at Linfield with the baseball season well underway, Brown said he recognizes that his perseverance through his injury, regaining his health and playing with the A’s was a journey worth taking.
“I worked really hard this offseason,” he said. “It has been paying off so far.”
The fruit of his effort comes in the form of elevated self-confidence and maintaining primary physical condition, Brown said.
Everything he has observed and encountered since his injury can only aid him in the future as he said he aspires to be drafted in June and sign a professional contract.
Brown mentioned that his favorite team is the Los Angeles Dodgers, but he said he doesn’t place heavy importance on which team bids on him.
“I would love to just get drafted,” Brown said. “Any team would be fine.”