Warrior Words: The end of an era

With the conclusion of the 2014 baseball season, the game said good-bye to one of its all-time greats, not only for what he did on the field, but for what he did off of it as well. Derek Jeter was an icon for millions, and will continue to be one, especially for New Englanders and Wiltonians alike.

You really don’t have to be a baseball fan to be a Jeter fan, and virtually everyone in this area knows who he is and why more kids in the past 20 years have aspired to be like him more than any other athlete. He has been a model of consistency, priding himself on effort and doing things the right way — something that seems to get lost in today’s world with all of the shortcuts, alternatives and cheating that goes on behind closed doors, so to speak. A motto and code of conduct Wilton students have lived by coming through the public school system states that “character is what you say or do when no one is looking” and this man has embodied this phrase and is an example of where having genuinely good character can get someone in life.

The captain’s post-game interviews after his final game at Yankee stadium truly moved me. I had been one of the people saying that the media and fans were overly infatuating his “final season” and what an outstanding career he had, while other players retiring were not getting nearly as much recognition as him. In his interviews, one of the first things he said multiple times was along the lines of: “I don’t understand why everyone is thanking me. I should be the one thanking you [the fans] for letting me play for you all these years.”

He went on to talk about how his career had been better than living a dream, but what resonated most with me was the selflessness and humble manner with which he naturally spoke. This guy is a hero, a living legend to so many people, but listening to him talk, you’d think he was a rookie, thankful for every opportunity he got, and someone who couldn’t have appreciated the support he had received more. He didn’t play for himself, he played for the fans, for the organization, and to help the team achieve its goals, something that a lot of players and people in general need to do more of.

A famous Jeter line that will probably be seen more now that he is officially retired is: “There may be people who have more talent than you, but there’s no excuse for anyone to work harder than you do.” These are words that anyone can relate to, and words that few can attest to. Jeter was never the biggest, fastest, or strongest player on the field, but through his two-decade-long career, he showed everyone that he did not have to be, as long as he put in the work and had the right mindset.

Statistically, he will be in the record books in dozens of categories, but his career was more than that. To me, he was a bright spot in a game that’s becoming less popular in today’s society, and a reminder that anyone can achieve success in or on whatever field they so choose, as long as one has the right frame of mind and is willing to outwork the competition, doing so with humility and pride. Whether you’re a Yankee fan or not, we should all tip our caps to The Captain. Thank you, Derek Jeter.

Alex Jacobson is a senior at Wilton High School. He shares this column with four classmates.