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  • Writer's pictureRay Digmi

4 Years and 4 words that changed my life forever...

Dear Coach Sheppard,⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ This was the last time I shook your hand as one of your players. It was my last time wearing the Seton Hall Pirate uniform. The last time I wore the #1 jersey and the last time I would be on the field with #17. This was during the 2000 NCAA Tournament after we just won 40 games and earned an at-large bid. After 4 years together, we had earned this hand shake.⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ There is so much I want to say to you. So many incredible memories to remember. So many tough times between us. So much history between a young stubborn kid and a wise, stern coach. ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ I didn’t understand it all back then. All that running we did. Why we had to run “The Rock” or why we had to run a 6 minute mile. I never understood why we had to run the jet lag off after a long flight home, or why it was so important to you that we made our 8am classes after pulling into campus at 2am. I just didn’t understand why you got so frustrated after a poor at-bat even though we were winning by a lot and I already had a couple of hits in the game. I didn’t understand back then. ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ But I do now! ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ You made us run “The Rock” because it was hard. You made us run a 6 minute mile because it wasn’t easy. You checked on our attendance at class because that’s what being a student-athlete was all about. And you cared about the poor at-bats because they all counted. Everything mattered when you played baseball at Seton Hall. ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ I will always be grateful I had the chance to wear the same uniform as you. I will always be grateful for all the games you wrote my name in the lineup. I will always be grateful for how hard you were on me. I know now that if you weren’t hard on me, I never would’ve pushed myself as hard as I did. ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ I now know that you really did know what you were doing. You knew you weren’t building baseball players. You knew you were building men. You knew you weren’t getting us ready for Big East baseball, you knew you were preparing us for life. ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ I didn’t know that back then. But I sure do know it now!⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ Playing for you was one of the greatest badges of honor I have ever earned. I will always be proud to say...”I played my college baseball at Seton Hall University for Coach Mike Sheppard”. I’ll always be proud of that. ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ Thank you Coach Shep...for the best four years I’ve ever had on a baseball field. Thank you for the program you built, the history you created, and the legacy you have left. ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ And like my jersey number, I know I may have been 1 small piece of the programs history, but I’d rather be one small piece at Seton Hall than a big piece anywhere else!⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ Yeah Shep, we definitely earned that handshake. Four years and four words that changed my life forever! ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ If someone asks me what I learned at Seton Hall University and what Coach Sheppard taught me...I won’t even hesitate. ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ I’ll say I learned to “NEVER LOSE YOUR HUSTLE”⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ Rest Easy Shep! ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ Ray Navarrete #1⁣⁣ Seton Hall Pirates⁣⁣ 1996-2000

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Jan 22, 2020

4 Years and 4 Words was a touching, heartfelt message to someone who obviously left a huge impression on you as a ball player and man. We should all be so fortunate to have a Coach Shep in our lives. HHH!

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