In his sophomore year at Florida State, Mike Roose wrote a paper describing where he saw himself in five years.
“I kid you not, I wrote ‘I wanna be a strength coach for the Boston Red Sox,’” he said.
On Wednesday in the Murray Function Room of the Yawkey Athletic Center, Roose spoke to students in the Undergraduate Government of Boston College about his journey to achieve that goal and the importance of motivation, focus, and wellness, especially in college.
In his first years at FSU, Roose said he “was just wandering … I wasn’t focusing on the right things in my life.”
His decision to enlist in the military days after the attacks of Sept. 11 taught him to have a purpose in life, he said. While serving abroad, Roose began to spend his free time between missions in the weight room. When he returned from overseas, this new passion gave him a sense of direction and he decided to become a strength coach.
Roose said that the Major League Baseball players he coaches share this motivation.
“Every single one of them has a driven purpose about their life,” he said. “They’ve decided in their mind and in their hearts, ‘I’m going to be the best baseball player I can be.’”
Throughout his career, Roose set specific goals for himself and his team. As a minor-league coordinator, he decided he wanted his team to be the best-ranked team in the league, but also continued to reevaluate their next steps after they reached that ranking.
Roose also offered advice on how to stay healthy and active during students’ crucial college years. He emphasized the importance of nutrition and said he regretted his own unhealthy habits in college, which earned him the nickname “Pizza Kid.”
“If it comes from the Earth or if it has a mother, it’s good for you,” he said.
He also told students to include variety in their athletic routines and not criticize a sport until they tried it.
“If you think yoga’s stupid, go do some yoga,” he said.
Finally, Roose acknowledged the difficulties of staying active when transitioning from a high school team to the college environment. He encouraged forming a buddy system, which could be as simple as texting a friend to go to the gym.
Roose sees that same spirit and camaraderie among athletes and coaches, where teasing is commonplace.
If someone misses a workout “we’ll text each other, ‘where the frick were you, man? You frickin’ let us down,’ and hold each other accountable,” he said.
Athletes such as Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts and catcher Christian Vasquez also display that relentless drive. Betts told Roose he never thought he would be successful. His doubts and failures, however, never stopped him from showing up and pushing his teammates to practice.
Betts’ teammates would insist “This guy’s gonna kill me,” but his persistence paid off.
Similarly, when Vasquez started training at 16, the team could not even find a position for him.
“Anytime you talk to him, he has this very intense gaze in his eyes. He doesn’t break gaze with you—even then, even when he stunk,” Roose said.
By his fourth year, his teammates and coaches said Vasquez was one of the best catchers they’d ever seen.
Roose closed with the story of his own start with the Red Sox. He drove seven hours overnight to meet a team executive the next morning and treated the experience like an interview even though the meeting was informal. He used this story to stress the role of sacrifice in pursuing success.
“I worked for ham and cheese sandwiches,” he said, referring to his first months as an unpaid assistant.
He told his managers, “I don’t care. This is what I want to do, and I’ll do whatever it takes.”
Roose stressed that most of the major leaguers he knows are ordinary people.
“At the end of the day, they just know how to throw a baseball really well,” he said. “There are way more important things in life.”
The players he loves to work with stay humble despite their fame.
“David Ortiz saved more kids’ lives [through his pediatric health foundation] than he hit home runs,” he said.
He advised students to find a purpose for their lives, no matter what it is, and to remember that even small goals can lead to great achievements and impacts on society.
“You gotta have a reason to get out of bed,” Roose said. “We have a very short time here, so find it. Whatever it is, find it and take advantage of it.”
Featured Image by Miranda McDonald-Stahl / Heights Editor