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Grit.org Podcast - Episode 4: Aidan Sweatt



Colby Harris: Welcome back to the “Grit.org” Podcast. My name is Colby Harris and alongside me here today is Brian Harbin. We also have with us today our guest division one baseball player Aidan Sweatt. Aidan thank you so much for joining us today.

Aidan Sweatt: Thank you, guys, for having me. This is my first podcast, so I'm really excited.

Colby Harris: Absolutely. Well, we're super excited to have you here. So nonetheless Ian born and raised in Fernandina Beach, Florida. You've been a gifted athlete from a young age. Playing basketball and baseball through middle school. You always had standout. You always were a standout performer due to your work ethic, hustle, and leadership. Once in the high school attending Fernandina Beach High School, Aidan fully committed himself to baseball and went all in. Preferably playing shortstop but able to play any part of the field, Aidan landed on the varsity baseball team as a freshman. At just 5.5’, 140 pounds freshman year, Aidan showed up and gave it his all day in, day out, and made sure he really earned that varsity letter.

He went on to be a four-year letter winner, earned rookie of the year freshman year, was named All County Mister Hustle sophomore year, was selected all county his junior year, lastly, as member of the class of 2020, Aidan lost the majority of his senior season of baseball to the hands of COVID-19. Although he was not deterred, just before COVID hit in November of 2019, he signed to play collegiate baseball at the University of North Florida. In 2021, Aidan had a stellar freshman season. Being unanimously selected to the A Sun all freshmen team after he appeared in all 45 games starting 44 while hitting a 282 with 28 runs, 50 hits, 14 doubles, 3 triple and 22 RBIs. Aidan is now a sophomore at UNF and when he's not training or focusing on school, he can be found fishing, golfing, and spending time with his friends and family.

So, nonetheless, rolling right into it and super excited to have you here today highlighting your story and how through consistent hard work and dedication, anything's possible. So, as some of our listeners may know, I'm also from Fernandina Beach and had the pleasure of growing up with Aidan from sixth grade to present day. He was one of my first friends in Fernandina quickly introducing himself to me on our very first day of school as a just the guy he is. So, he might be known for his skills on the field but the many is off the field that impresses me so much. So, Aidan, thank you again for being here. Diving right in. Starting from the beginning, can you tell us a bit about growing up in Fernandina and some of the life lessons that come with growing up in such a small, tightly-nit town like Fernandina?

Aidan Sweatt: Yeah. So, Fernandina Beach, it's kind of a small town where everyone knows everybody. When I was younger, it's like when you're walking into the grocery store with your parents, you can hardly see someone you don't know. So, you know that always kind of kept me on my toes being respectful and stuff like that trying to stay out of trouble knowing everyone around town. Ford got back to my mom that I was smart mouthing around things weren't going to be looking good for me, but Fernandina is awesome. I kind of grew up with the same kids since preschool all throughout kindergarten through high school so you know seeing how we all grown up graduated together that's pretty cool.

Some of these kids are still my best friend to this day. As you're sitting here right next to me doing a podcast, pretty awesome but pretty awesome. So, for the life lessons you mentioned, I got to have to thank my parents for those. They really taught me everything I know. My dad's a general contractor. So, growing up working with him, taught me everything I know about hard work to this day and my mom for teaching me my manners and all that stuff. So, I'm really appreciative to them. And yeah, they taught me to believe in yourself and you can do anything you put your mind to.

Colby Harris: Yeah, absolutely and there's definitely few places like Fernandina and having the pleasure meeting your parents before there's definitely a few people like your parents as well. So, Aidan as mentioned you played just about every sport growing up. But can you tell us from your perspective what is it about baseball that you enjoy so much and what really had you so obsessed at a young age?

Aidan Sweatt: Yeah, sports for me growing up was everything, that's all I did. I have a younger brother and a younger sister, but usually me and my younger brother outside all the time. We played anything from waffle ball football soccer kickball like anything you could think of. When we got home from school mom's rule was you had to finish your homework before you could go outside and play. So, we get home, hustling, do our homework, so we could go outside and figure out some sort of game to play. For the most part, that was amazing until our competitive nature got in the way sometimes ended up in some little bit of a scuffle that got us into some trouble but sports was awesome. Organized sports as I got older a little bit. That was really like my prime time what I love to do. I played basketball, flag football, and baseball growing up.

Baseball obviously my favorite flag football is pretty fun only played that for a couple of years and I'm a little guy. So, basketball obviously not going to be sticking around doing that, but yeah getting to see my friends during the week at practice and everything during the weekends with our games hanging out all the time. Those are the kind of things that I look forward to spending time with my buddies doing organized sports growing up.

Brian Harbin: Yeah. So, Aidan that brings us to the next topic obviously baseball which brings us here today, right. So, we know obviously you were stellar athlete overall and played basically anything that get moving. But what was it about baseball that made you want to go all in or I guess were there any early moments where you knew that was the one?

Aidan Sweatt: Yeah. So, from a young age I can always remember baseball was my main focus. I would always be begging my brother; he would want to play football or basketball or something like that. I was like, come on let's play baseball. Let's rake the leaves in the yard into a pile make some diving catches play waffle ball something like that. So, baseball was always like my main focus my favorite thing to do. Looking back on it, I don't really know if there's one specific moment. Thinking about it maybe when I was around like 12 or 13 years old, you play in this your age category. I got called up to play with some of the older kids, which was kind of honor. Because you say it after to watch them practice stuff see what they do try to copy their batting senses all that stuff. So, getting invited to go play a tournament with them was pretty cool.

When I got called up to play with them, it kind of a little bit of a confidence booster, because when you start having success, you start feel like you could fit in. You're like, wow, these guys are a couple years older than me. I could do this. I'm only 12 years old. These kids are 15. They're bigger, faster, stronger than me. I could fit in with these guys. So, besides that, I don't really know if there's anything else that really stands out besides the camaraderie that I had with my buddies growing up. I can remember the opening days we had at the Bay Ruth Field on the island. There’re hundreds of people there, big water slides, you're eating Skittles before the game, ice pops. Probably not the best thing for you, but you're down in Gatorade with your friends. You're having fun. So, those are the kind of things that I remember just hanging out with some of my best friends growing up.

Colby Harris: Having fun where it all really starts and baseball unfortunately is a sport that I never really got into but if I ever had a reason to start liking was definitely just watching the passion that you had for it. So, as mentioned in the introduction, something I respect so much about you is you are more than just an athlete. You're always willing to lend a helping hand or help in any way for that matter. So, when you're in middle school, you won the Florida Gatorade Sportsmanship Award, a statewide award given to one who excels in the classroom and on the field as well as shows the utmost respect for players and coaches. For younger listeners or really any leaders out there for that matter, can you share some insight into what you believe makes a great teammate or a great leader?

Aidan Sweatt: Yeah, I think being a leader starts with a couple things and it starts with taking care of yourself first. Because if you don't have yourself in check, how are you supposed to be able to lead others? In high school, I did FCA which is Fellowship of Christian Athletes. The baseball team would meet every Friday morning. We would bring donuts and chocolate milk and we would meet in a room before and talk about things like this leadership goals, team goals just stuff like that. I remember one quote that our FCA leader said to us I have it written down in one of my notebooks still to this day. He said, “A leader of one can lead many. If you can't lead none you can't lead any”. If you can't lead one, you can't lead any.

But yeah, I mean I think there's some truth in that because how are you supposed to can't try and like be a leader for other people if you don't have yourself in check. I think another thing being a leader, very important to being a leader is never doing something that you wouldn't never asking someone to do something that you wouldn't do yourself. I kind of got that. I watched the last dance documentary. Michael Jordan.

Colby Harris: That's right.

Aidan Sweatt: Really love it and he said that and I was like wow that's really true. You never want to be that guy that's out there like ordering people around. Now if you're trying to urge your teammates to hustle on and off the field you got to be the first one doing stuff like that too. So, I think it's really important to lead by example.

Colby Harris: Yeah.

Aidan Sweatt: Sometimes I'm not a very vocal leader. I try to just lead by example. Put my head down. Do what I know how to do. And hopefully they'll follow me. I think being last thing is probably being selfless because in life as well as sports There's ups and downs and everyone's going to make mistakes. Everyone's going to fail. Nobody's perfect. So, I think great part in being a leader is being selfless. Taking the time out to be there for someone when they need you the most when they're down. You got to pick them up and I think that's one of the reasons why I've made so many friends in sports to this day is because your friends are your teammates on the field and your best friends off the field as well.

Colby Harris: Yeah, absolutely. Leading from the trenches, right Brian. Something we talk a lot about and that's definitely great insight especially since one of our lines of our Grit Creed is actually, I'll never ask someone to do something I'm not willing to do. That's always heavily resonated with me and again, same thing. You can't be much of a leader if you're asking a bunch of people just pointing fingers and screaming. So, every great leader can definitely take that and implement into their own day to day. So, nonetheless, after middle school, you went on FBHS and you had your sight set on playing for the varsity baseball team. Again, freshman year, you in at a whopping 55, 40 pounds give or take a little bit. So, from middle school to high school level everything and everyone seems to be a little bit bigger, stronger, faster. This was just a big step overall for you. So, I can imagine it was quite intimidating as well. Can you tell us more about the transition and how you overcame any doubts or fears you had at that time as you just took your game to the new level?

Aidan Sweatt: Yeah, I definitely wasn't the most physically appealing second baseman for the varsity team. But when you're 14, 15 years old as a freshman in high school, you're going to go up against other kids that are seniors 18, 19 years old that are essentially grown men compared to what I was. Nevertheless, I knew going into high school I had a goal in mind was to play for coach Roland. It was his last year being the varsity head coach he coached for nearly 40 years.

Colby Harris: Fields named after him even now.

Aidan Sweatt: So, very special and I was like, this is my only chance I want to play for coach Roland make the varsity team. So, it was hard. Definitely, there was a lot of hard work that had to be put into it but it's nothing that I didn't think that I could overcome with a little bit of hard work. Derek Jeter was one of my role models growing up and he had a quote. I have this poster still to this day in my room. My mom got it for me when I was younger. One of his most famous quotes says, “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard”. I really believe in that because I think you can, I believe in you can do anything you put your mind to and I think it was just instilled to me from when I was a young kid and I truly do believe it.

So, after a tough fall season, freshman year, school, workouts, practice, trying to learn how to be a high schooler growing up. I was lucky enough to make the team in the spring season. I didn't really play much at the beginning of the season, but nevertheless I was sitting the bench for the first time in my life. Never really happen before, I always made sure growing up in Bay Ruth. I was like, I'm not going to give the coach a decision but to put me in the lineup I want to play. So, first time in my life I was sitting the bench, but I wanted to attack that the only way that I knew how to and I was just trying to be the best teammate and everything else I could be keeping the energy up. While I was sitting on the bench watching the game from a different angle for once I was also learning. I would sit right by coaching the dugout and he would teach me the game as I'm sitting there watching everyone else play it.

So yeah, coach Roland I remember about halfway through the season, we had a team meeting and we're having a pretty good season so far. But some of the guys were struggling and he was trying to motivate us one day practice. He said, given us some speech about hard work and I remember sitting there and he said one thing that stood out to me. He said, sometimes you have to work while you wait. I was like, man, right now I'm waiting. I'm sitting there watching for the first time in my life and I was like, but I'm still going to continue to put my head down work as hard as I can to maybe get a chance. You never know what will happen. Towards the end of the year, I ended up getting a couple chances to play and I found some success whenever my name was called for the first time and ended up helping the team win a couple games, which is pretty cool.

Colby Harris: Yeah, absolutely. You contribute in some way and like Tom Brady always says, you got to be prepared for that moment. Because it might only come once and if you don't follow through with it then you don't know where you'll find yourself in the future if you don't capitalize on that one opportunity. So, you obviously overcame any adversity in your way as you earned rookie of the year that freshman year. Clearly, at this time as you had spent your freshman season playing varsity, your determination and love for the game definitely did rub off on everyone. Like you said, even if you were just hype man at every practice and every game you played your part and I'm sure everyone was so thankful to have you there.

But nonetheless high school level is not only more challenging competition, but as you said adjusting to the schedule. So, it requires more commitment and more practice more training in general takes a lot of sacrifice to be at all these practices and meetings. So, can you show us what it's been like for you to just lock in the past few years to continue to chase the dream of making it to the collegiate level and beyond?

Aidan Sweatt: Absolutely. It definitely does take a lot of commitment, that's for sure. I remember especially freshman year I was taking some honors classes things like that I didn't get to bed until midnight some nights. My mom would say, hey, time for bed. I'm like, mom, I still got some more couple hours of homework to do I got to study I got a big test tomorrow. So, learn how to do that was definitely a challenge for me, which is more than happy to accept. I try to keep my grades up. I take a lot of pride in having good grades because I think that how you do one thing is how you do everything. So, if I want to be great on the baseball field, I got to be great in the classroom as well. If I want to be a leader on the baseball field, I want to be a leader in the classroom as well. Our team got to keep a good GPA. That was one of our goals in high school to have a very high team GPA. So, I want to be a part of that.

I really had to learn how to manage my time a little bit better because not too great at that. I started playing things out a little bit better and focusing on the task that was at hand. Because you can't be worrying about schoolwork while you're at baseball practice. You're not completely focused at baseball practice if you're worrying about your test later. So, I had to relearn how to do that. If I'm doing school work at lunch, focus on your schoolwork. You don't have to be talking to your friends. When you're at baseball practice, focus at baseball practice. Stuff like that. So, I think it's really important to learn how to mend your time and freshman year I was in for a rude awakening for that. Same thing for me was kind of, it was the same thing last year for me in college. I was a freshman again kind of at the bottom of the totem pole. I was learning how to do everything. It was my first time living alone in an apartment, so I had some chores that I had to do start washing the dishes doing my own laundry, keeping the house clean. So, I had to throw that into my schedule as well. It's difficult at times you feel like you're backed up you can never catch up sometimes. But whenever you figure out how to schedule your day a little bit better, manage your time well it helps a lot.

Brian Harbin: Aidan, I love what you said a minute ago about being on the bench for the first time and how that affected you. And for any young athlete out there, that's such a huge takeaway is like being able to influence the game like when you're not in the game and learning to be a great teammate, learning how the coaches think. So, that's such a great nugget and something that I really appreciate you sharing that. I wanted to ask you about motivation, because Fernandina small town tight-knit community that a lot of people that were at your high school games were the same people that were at your T-ball games whether it's family members, coaches, teachers. So, what value have you found in having such a strong support system around you? Is that something that you use as motivation on days where maybe you're feeling like going a 100%?

Aidan Sweatt: Absolutely. I think growing up in Fernandina is the biggest reason why I am where I am today. My teammates growing up they were all my best friends. So, if we had a bad game, we had a bad game together. If we were lost, it was we lost together. It wasn't very individualistic and the same thing goes for like my family. They're really everything to me. They taught me everything that I know and they were there for me growing up. They did everything for me driving me around, waiting around for after practice. Sometimes it was late nights if I wanted to get work in mom would sit out in the parking lot and wait for me to get done. I don't think I'm ever going to be able to thank them enough for that, because they really do mean everything to me.

Colby Harris: Yeah, definitely that's awesome and you definitely did have a strong support system, I mean I even remember this is our homecoming king actually as well over here me and all of our best friends were on the court and we're all walking in saying, yeah, I hope Aidan wins too. I don't even want to win I hope Aidan wins too. So, nonetheless I've loved being a part of that support system and there really is like Fernandina. So, I can definitely second that point. But nonetheless after a very successful sophomore and junior season, you posted 357 batting average with nine doubles a triple and 14 RBIs during your junior year. You're on track to have an exciting senior year. But before we get to that, in November of 2019 you decide to commit and continue your career at the University of North Florida as an osprey while studying sports management. Can you share with us some insight into the recruiting process and how you ultimately that UNF was where you wanted to be?

Aidan Sweatt: Yeah, so after my sophomore season in summer ball, I played pretty well and I was lucky enough to come in contact with the UNF coaching staff. They had a couple phone calls and they said, they were going to come watch me play in our fall season. So, I was like, it was all really new to me. Nobody in my family has ever been to college yet, so I'm the oldest sibling and I was like alright I'm just going to keep doing what I've been doing. Put my head down, keep working hard. I guess I did something right because they called me back, I had a couple more phone calls with the coaching staff. I ended up going on a visit that fall to UNF and I really liked it. It's close to home. All my family and friends could come. Watch me play. I thought that was a big plus sounded right up my alley because they they've been there for me my entire life. I wouldn't want to go anywhere across the country where they couldn't come watch me play easily.

So, UNF sounded right my alley and I like the coaches. They're awesome, teaching me a lot, learning a lot having a great time here so far. Had a great freshman season. I'm looking forward to this season just really grateful for the opportunity that they gave me.

Colby Harris: Definitely, and I'm sure it's one of those things that you could just feel it was right and I really can't imagine the pressure either as you're going through that process, I know some people talk about enjoying the pressure of having to get that college offer and some people. Like man, I feel overwhelmed by having these coaches at my games and stuff like that. so, nonetheless falling commitment the world would in fact be turned upside down with arguably the biggest turn of events in our lifetime. The COVID-19 pandemic. So sure, enough right as your season baseball season was set to ramp up in March of 2020. We went on the longest spring break of our lives.

Never returning as students of Fernandina Beach High School and one thing that just hit me really hard was in fact thinking about you and the loss of your baseball season. I know you really just want to share those final moments with your teammates, with your family, senior night, one last run at the playoffs when I realized you weren't going to have that opportunity. It hit a lot harder than any of the losses I personally had. So, it was definitely a curve ball you never could've anticipated. So, what was that like for you and what effects did it have on you as you had to close out your high school season unexpectedly and kind of with some cards on the table?

Aidan Sweatt: Yeah, we definitely left some cards on the table that's for sure. COVID kind of took the wind out of our sales to be honest. Especially for me. I remember we were playing Yulee High School which was our rival. It was Friday I believe, we got out of school early. We had a game that day and we started hearing the news of COVID-19 they were going to shut down the schools. Nobody really knew it was coming. So, we were like, this might be our last time on the field together. We've been playing together since we been playing T-ball and now it's might be our last run we don't know. We ended up winning the game 1-0 and after the game we were kind of sitting in huddle just looking at each other. Like, what are we going to do? If this is our last game, how are we supposed to know? We have games next week; they might not cancel school we might have that.

But I just remember that feeling whenever we got the phone call that school was cancelled, they're going to shut it down. I was kind of defeated to say the least. I really wanted to experience all those things that you talked about earlier senior night, a last playoff run, the final game. Because I was playing for the varsity team for three years up to that point. I saw how much those nights and those days, those experiences meant to the other kids that I've been playing with the upperclassmen. I knew how much it meant to them and I knew it meant even more to me because I love Fernandina Beach, it's my heart and soul. So, really wanted to experience that with some of my best friends and I was little bit disappointed to say the least for a very long time. But sometimes deal with adversity and I think everything happens for a reason. That's probably why I am where I am today.

Colby Harris: Definitely agree and I think that's what is the toughest part about is any great success or anything that you work really hard for usually comes with a peak. A sign off moment where you can close it out, close that chapter of your life and that was the toughest part about being COVID babies is we weren't able to have those final moments. But nonetheless again time did in fact pass I feel like we've returned to some sense of normalcy. We're still talking about online classes and stuff like that which are almost better as we've kind of discovered but nonetheless, although school was cut in March, I would say the real heat of COVID came in late 2020 when it was then time for you to start at UNF. So, still kind of battling this. So, for you from high school ball to starting college, in your first few months, again, that same transition. What were you seeing that were just some immediate key from pivoting again high school into college and just what would come with that new experience?

Aidan Sweatt: Yeah, college was definitely way different than high school for me last year. We were talking a little bit earlier about in high school, you kind of knew everybody. You could walk from classic class and say, hey, to every single person you see in the hallway almost and in college, it was way different. I walked into a locker room full of guys I never met before and talking most of my teachers over Zoom and through email. So, COVID kind of had a little bit to do with that, I think. A lot of the upperclassmen were telling me, a lot of the things and procedures we were doing last year was way different because of COVID. The rules were stricter. So, I think that had a little bit of do with how different it was.

I think the mandatory stuff that we have to do now is a little bit more than what I had to do in high school because in high school you would show up 9 AM for school. You would have school and then you have baseball practice after that. Those are the only two things you were required to do all day. You kind of had it planned out for you. In college, it's a little bit different with our base baseball schedule. We have weights in the morning and then we have mandatory practice for a couple hours. So, those are the only two things you're required to do every day technically, but there's a lot more that fills in in between that stuff as you guys know. So, on top of that, I was living by myself for the first time as we talked about earlier. I had to figure out how to do that a little bit. So, when you're trying to schedule all those things around. Bedtime kind of sneaks up on you each day sometimes.

Colby Harris: Yeah, without doubt and you definitely were being challenged which is a good thing, but knowing you, I'm really sure you tackled it head on and I'm sure your apartment is pretty spotless as well. But something I talk a lot about is enjoying the process. The days that no one sees you, the days that aren't all that exciting aren't all that glamorous where people or see you living the life so to say. But in the end, these small wins are really what set you up for these core memories big success moments in the. So, for you the preseason hustle would in fact set you up for that first game and your first opportunity to suit up as a collegiate athlete. Being a freshman and coaches already having expectations for you nonetheless the whole town of Fernandina having expectations for you. How did you manage your nerves heading into that first game and what was it like for you to finally see your biggest dream just brought into fruition?

Aidan Sweatt: Managing my nerves definitely wasn't too much of a challenge for me. I remember the first night, so we drove all the way to Tallahassee playing Florida State University, top ranked ACC team, bunch of division one prospects, MLB draft prospects all that thing. Freshman of the year they were throwing at us they had everything and UNF was kind of a little bit of an underdog in that scenario to say the least. So, I went into it with high expectations with bunch of confidence as we all were really like what do we have to lose. I remember finding out that I was starting on the season opener. I was pretty excited, seeing my name on the lineup card. I felt a little bit nervous as anyone would, but I knew that I was ready and I prepared myself that's what I put in all the hard work for. So, I little nervous, but I overcame it pretty fast whenever I knew we were ready to go. It was a close game though that opening day.

Colby Harris: Yeah, we're going to get to that one for sure so it's definitely one of those things that. I feel like the nerves are healthy but also for you again it's the excitement. I feel like you are less nervous and more antsy ready to get on the field. So, when you are heading into those big games those big moments where you've got to balance excitement, nerves, have a level head, be composed while also perform your very best. Can you show us what does Aiden Sweatt pregame preparation look like?

Aidan Sweatt: Yeah. So, I have a routine that I like to go through every day. I do it at practice and game days to prepare my body to get ready to play. I think it's really important to trust the process because I believe the process takes care of itself. You can only control what you can control. So, if you put the time in before and all your preparation eventually pays off. So, I think preparation is a big part of that. I'm a little superstitious as well. I'll have to admit it, I have been since I was younger if we won a game, wouldn't wash the socks which mom was never too happy about that wasn't good. I'm a little bit better now. I wash my socks all the time, but I just think that baseball is a very different sport. There’re so many things you can't control.

If you're hitting and you fail seven out of 10 times little bit of a cliche saying, but you're doing pretty well. So, you can't really control if you get a hit. Sometimes you might hit one hard right at somebody it might be an out sometimes you might drop one in. So, you can't really control what goes on in the game but you can control your preparation. So, I think that's very important.

Brian Harbin: Yeah, I love that Aidan talking about preparation control what you can control and trust the process. That's a big thing for Nick Saban I know is trust in the process and every great performer has whether it's a pre-game routine or for baseball game board meeting or even just a morning routine for that matter. But you clearly had a plan that work for you and I'm sure freshman year was very exciting for a lot of different reasons. But what was your favorite moment from that freshman season and made that moment stand out?

Aidan Sweatt: My favorite moment from freshman year definitely opening night versus Florida State. I know I touched on it a little bit earlier, but we're going in. We're driving all the way to a big ACC school. They're top ranked in the country and we were the underdogs. Everybody knew it. We were hearing it from the fans opening night obviously and I think getting that win was huge for us. It really boosted all of our confidence. We didn't really know what we had going for us last year. We had some older guys. We had some younger guys like myself coming in trying to step up. So, didn't really know how we were going to be. We all were kind of went into it with open minds, just put our heads down and keep working. And we got the win opening night. We were all like oh my gosh we could do this. Like we fit right in with these guys.

There's an MLB draft prospects throwing on the mound tonight and we just beat them we took them out in the second inning. Like I think that when I was able to contribute to the win that made me feel even a little bit better, because sometimes you do have some doubts in your mind. Everybody does, but I think it's very important to remain confident. We won that game that night. I got a couple hits in the last inning. It's a close game, our 6-year senior comes in out of the bullpen and Florida State has their top of their lineup coming up. They're ready to go and they get a couple guys on, move them over, score a couple runs, they start chipping away at their lead. And there Florida State's fourth year senior hits a ground ball to my left. I run over catch it slip a little bit turn around make the throw to first base and we ended up sealing off the ball game.

So, I think that was really special for me. I just remember going back to the hotel spending time with all my teammates. We were all excited, jumping around, getting pumped up. I got a bunch of calls from family and friends that night too. So, it was good hearing them. They were all congratulating me. I just remember that night lying in bed, it was like a dream really. You can't really explain it, but except for that way, it really was just a dream.

Colby Harris: Yeah, I can definitely understand and like you said earlier baseball is a game of failure and you rose to the occasion in that moment. So, when you do perform and when you do rise to the occasion, exactly as you said there's no true way to explain it but the sensation is definitely like no other. So, Aidan as I have mentioned you clearly being on this podcast and being a freshman on the varsity team and now a standout performer on your college baseball team. Everyone would probably say, you just have this certain composure and swagger too that most people would look your way or hear these awesome stories and say, he's just got it going on he has it all figured out. But I do know everyone faces adversity as we're talking about here whether it be on their own head or external factors that create a bump in the road whatever it may be.

As a flip side that last question of your shining moment. Over the last 15 years of playing this game 20 years of life from middle school to high school now college, have there been any challenges in your journey that you've faced that you've had to overcome and in turn really came out a better stronger version of yourself?

Aidan Sweatt: Yeah, there's definitely been challenges in baseball for sure it's a very up and down sport. You can't get better every single day. So, there's definitely been a lot of mistakes that I made in the past, but I try to learn from them I realize that nobody's perfect. So, when you make a mistake, I think it's important to learn from it and try not to make the same mistake two times in a row. That's where you get yourself in trouble and you keep repeating a mistake. I strive for perfection. I realize that it's never going to happen because nobody's perfect, but you know what, when I do make mistakes, I think it's important to learn from them.

Brian Harbin: Yeah, I appreciate you sharing that. I mean, I know there's a lot of people that see you as inspiration. At the end of the day, they know that you're human too. So, this point, you have your freshman season in the books, but your grind doesn't start there. Stop there, right. So, you decide last summer to join the Northwoods Baseball League which is basically a summer baseball league for collegiate baseball players all across the country. And you end up getting sent to Wisconsin to play for the La Crosse Lagers and move there for the summer of 202. Something we love to talk about in this podcast is hot beds of talent and where people surround themselves with other like-minded people and kind of a certain environment in order to kind of take their whatever talent there is to the next level. So, can you share with us a little bit more about that experience and maybe what it was like in Wisconsin for you last summer?

Aidan Sweatt: Yeah. So, the Northwoods League is filled with collegiate baseball players from across the country from every level. Division 1, division 2, all the way down to NAIA. They recruit players from across the country to go stay up there and play for their team. It's a little bit like minor league baseball or independent baseball, but it was a blast. I had so much fun. I met a lot of great people up there. First-class organization. I played for the lacrosse lagers up there. I really was blessed to play for them. It was a once in a lifetime experience. It's funny story about that my coach, I was talking to him last year about playing summer ball. I did want to go play summer ball somewhere after our season concluded. He was kind of getting on and off with me about it and one day he called me into his office and he said, hey, I'm going to send you up to Wisconsin. I looked at him a little bit crazy I was like, coach, where's Wisconsin? I don't even know where that is.

I grew up playing summer ball and I've only played Florida and Georgia. Those are the two places I've traveled to play baseball before and my coach is in there telling me, he was sending me all the way across the country by myself. I was like, I mean, yeah, I'm excited. I'll go. It was pretty funny story how it happened, but it was awesome this summer up there. I made a bunch of lifelong friends that I still talk to this day and had a bunch of good experiences. There's a lot of long bus rides. We had a one bus ride that was from Lacrosse to Bismarck, North Dakota which was over seven hours and we had to play that night too.

Colby Harris: It was brutal.

Aidan Sweatt: Yeah, it was. We had some tight muscles, that's for sure. We had to do a little bit of extra warming up. It was awesome.

Colby Harris: Yeah. It's definitely not what you want to hear when you're coming in to coaches’ office trying to get recruited as you got a one way to Wisconsin. See you. Leave Florida. Go hang out. Spend three months in Wisconsin. But definitely a great way to expand your game in the off season obviously is again something I admire so much is somebody's trying to give you time to rest, time to go recuperate. I don't want to call it wasted time, but go take some time take it easy and you were looking to get right back after and keep pushing. So, I know you've always had a training program through the years. But this time you spent in Wisconsin was also when you really found a passion for the gym. It really started to serve a higher purpose than just being training or strength training or helping you swing the bat or throw the ball harder. It really became a place you could find peace after a tough game, tough practice, or missing your friends and family while you were up there in Wisconsin. So, can you share some insight into the love you found for the gym and just kind of how it's helped you continue to not only look and feel your best but offer outlet to kind of step away whenever you do feel a little offer out of it.

Aidan Sweatt: Yeah, for sure. Before this summer, I kind of worked out like you said, I needed to get bigger, faster, and stronger to play baseball. But this summer, we were actually given a free gym membership to Anytime Fitness for the Lacrosse loggers. They provided us with that which was awesome and I found myself in the gym more often times than not this summer. It was a good place for me to step away, clear my mind. If we had a tough loss, I would head over to the gym. Excuse me. I cover to the gym, do some yoga, ride the bike, walk on the treadmill, try and do something productive while I'm trying to clear my head after a tough game. I would end up spending a bunch of time in the gym with my teammate Tony Roca. We were workout buddies we'd workout every morning before early work and before the game.

So, I spend a lot of time in the gym this summer. It's a great place. I think one of the things that makes the gym so great is it takes consistency to see results. It's not a place where you can just go in and see instant results. You have to put the time in and I think consistency is key in a lot of things in life especially the gym.

Colby Harris: Definitely agree and I love that delayed graphics and that's why I love sports and business so much is because it's one of those things that you can't fake it and you do have to be consistent. So, nonetheless clearly working out, doing all that lifting paid off as you hit your first collegiate home run while you're up there playing for the loggers. Not only did you hit your first collegiate home run but again, your mom was able to be there in house just visiting for a few days out of the summer and you managed to smack a homer. So, you talked earlier about your mom a and the huge influence she's had on you. So, to have your home run with her in the stadium is quite poetic. So, we got to touch on that. Can you tell us about that sensation of hitting your second home run ever and also getting to have those closest to you in the building?

Aidan Sweatt: Yeah, that was awesome. So, my mom, my little sister, and my girlfriend, they drove up to Wisconsin. They made the cross-country trip for little bit over a week to come watch me play this summer. It was the first night, they were there and I don't know I got a hold of one and it started flying I don't really know it must have been an accident. All my friends know me.

Colby Harris: Close your eyes and swing.

Aidan Sweatt: Exactly. Sometimes it just happens like that, but it was awesome. It was the first night they were there and I ended up getting a hold of one. So, it's pretty special. A funny story about that night too is in Lacrosse they had special like game nights and stuff at the ballpark where people could win prizes and stuff like that. And that particular night was bingo night at the ballpark. So, upon entry, they would give everyone a bingo card and you would play baseball bingo. So, if someone got a base hit, you would put a X down. If someone walked or struck out, you would put a X down, bingo rules. My girlfriend, she had every row crossed out and all she needed was a home run left. I provided the winning bingo card; it sounds a little bit made up but I probably that's how it happened. It was pretty awesome.

Colby Harris: Movie-like moments, man. Who knows? Maybe there's Aidan Seatt movie in the works one of these days. Somewhere down the road.

Aidan Sweatt: Maybe. The couple weeks, a couple days later actually was Father's Day and I hit my second home run of the summer. Two home runs in one week. I don't know what was going on but.

Colby Harris: Through the moon.

Aidan Sweatt: Pretty awesome Father's Day present for dad to hit one for him. So that was pretty cool too.

Brian Harbin: Yeah, it's fantastic and sounds like Wisconsin was a great kind of bow on the end of what it was a great freshman year of college experience and then to be able to experience Wisconsin on top of that. So, now back at UNF, you're a sophomore. Tell us a little bit about kind of the day in the life of being a college division one athlete, balancing sports, school, just having a normal college life. Tell us a little bit about that.

Aidan Sweatt: Yeah, there's a lot that goes on definitely. My day in the life right now is pretty similar every single day. Wake up, make a good breakfast, eat some eggs, peanut butter toast is what I'm rolling with right now. After breakfast, you got to pack your bags, get some schoolwork done before you leave quick, check the emails, make sure nothing's due, and then you pack up and head to the campus for morning workouts for the baseball team. Me and my roommate usually carpool over there. We got workouts in the morning for about an hour. Then once you get done with that, you have a few hours in between workouts and practice time to get some stuff done. I usually take this time to knock out some emails, do any meetings that I have to do, finish some homework. It's a little bit easier for me to split up my assignments throughout the day, because if I try to sit down at night and do them all at once it just doesn't get done. So, I use that time to do some homework before practice.

Right before practice, I head over to the training room actually. Get some treatment, it's important to do that stuff because you got to keep your body healthy for the season. Head over to the training room get some treatment there. Once head back for practice, once practice is done, head home, make some dinner, chicken and rice some tacos. Dinner tonight is tacos, I'm pretty excited about that. Get some chores done around the house, this is you got to couple hours before bed. So, fill the dishwasher, do the laundry, things like that. So, I've been having a night time routine that I've started recently as well. Some yoga and reading too. So, little time to yourself. It's pretty awesome and then, get ready for bed, do it all again the next day.

Colby Harris: That's the beauty of it. Come back and get to do it all again the next day. But nonetheless, Aidan, it's been a real pleasure having you here today. A conversation I hold close to my heart is in fall of 2021. Me and you met up for dinner and we both just had this surreal realization of how crazy it is, how far we've come to just be two guys chasing our dreams, having the willingness to put in the work, make a reality having great mentors like Brian, like your coaches, like all these people that we've got to encounter. So, it's just crazy to think how far we've come but you truly encompass everything “Grit.org” stands for and I'm so happy you can be a part of what we're doing here.

When it comes back to our young athlete guest like yourself, something we find really exciting at the “Grit.org” podcast is being able to have you back on in the future to continue to tell your story and you just keep sharing how through this hard work and dedication. You can build more grit, make it possible to really reach any goal that you have in your mind. So, really hope you continue to keep doing what you're doing and join us in the future but listeners at home, of course, keep an eye out for this guy. Might see him on our channel, might see him on ESPN and I can promise you, probably find him on draft night one day. So, best of luck my friend. Before we wrap up, just one last question for you, Aidan. As we ask all of our guests this question, what part of Grit Creed resonates most with you and why?

Aidan Sweatt: Part of the Grit Creed resonates with me the most is I will try and try and try again. I take great pride in never giving up in anything. All my friends know that I'm pretty stubborn, whether it's thumb wrestling or playing ping pong I don't like to lose. So, I believe in trying your hardest in everything that you do. I think my dad instilled that in me when I was younger whether it was working with him at his job or doing yard work. He made sure we finished the job 100%. So, I think that's a part the Grit Creed that resonates with me the most.

Colby Harris: Yeah, you can achieve what you believe and you're definitely a true case to that. So, Aidan again, this been a lot of fun. Thank you so much again for being here.

Aidan Sweatt: Thank you, guys, for having me on. This is my first podcast. Really humbled to be able to talk about baseball and how much I love the game and stuff. So, I appreciate it. Thank you, guys, so much.

Colby Harris: Absolutely, thank you. Well, that's a wrap today here at The “Grit.org” Podcast. Please check out our other episodes. Leave us a comment. Tell us something you enjoyed about Aidan's story. Share this with someone you think it would resonate with or impact. As always, we appreciate you tuning in for another episode of The “Grit.org” Podcast.

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