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Life in the minors

By Nathan Rice

Hampton Roads is an area full of the minor leagues. The Norfolk Tides, a Major League Baseball AAA affiliate, have been a part of the area since 1961, and hockey fans have the opportunity to watch the Norfolk Admirals play minor league hockey at the Scope. Numerous other teams such as the Norfolk Nighthawks of the Arena Football 2 League, the Virginia Destroyers of the United Football League, and the Virginia Beach Mariners of the United Soccer League have provided our area with a variety of minor league sports throughout the years.

I grew up watching these teams, and I still root for the Tides and Admirals. There is a difference, though, between the major leagues and the minor leagues. The stadiums are smaller, the crowds are smaller and everyone knows these aren’t the highest-level leagues of their respective sports.

I am not an athlete, but I have lived my life in the minor leagues. Like athletes who train and work hard, I have trained and worked hard in an attempt to accomplish dreams and make a difference in our world. Also like many athletes, I have never made it to the big stage.

Hours of service and sermon preparation are met by a dozen or so in the congregation. Children’s services, also meticulously planned, are attended by less than a handful. My book only sold a few dozen copies, and that included those purchased by family members. My life has been one of working for and serving small crowds. It’s a life in the minors, but that doesn’t mean it’s less important.

Having a life that has focused around and worked with smaller crowds have caused me to pause and think about how to best react to a life in the minor leagues, and I have come up with a few things that have helped me.

First is to remember the importance of those who are there with you. The crowd may be small, but that doesn’t mean they should receive less than your best. It is an insult to those who have given you their time if you do not treat them the same way you would if there was a larger crowd watching, listening or following you.

Next is to know that your effort in and dedication to a certain endeavor is a reflection of you and not a reflection of the crowd. I know that my hours in preparation for certain things will only be seen by a few people, but my performance in that area is a reflection of me regardless of the size of the crowd that is there to see the results.

Lastly is to know that what you are doing might be the only opportunity for people to be a part of what you are doing. I know the Norfolk Tides are minor leagues, but I’m so happy they are here. I would rarely get to watch a high-quality baseball game in person if the Tides did not play in Norfolk. You may only have a few people there to see the results of your efforts, but the people who do come may not have anyone else who can do what you do.

I encourage you to put your full effort into the things you do even if you feel like your work with a non-profit, involvement in a community organization or work based in faith makes you feel like you are in the minor leagues.

Nathan Rice is a Hampton Roads native and can be reached at nrice@abnb.org.