The road to the “next level” of any sport is always a hard one. In order to go from playing in middle school to playing in high school, or to go from playing in high school to playing in college, and especially to go from playing in college to playing in the pros, you need to put in a lot of hard work, you need to have a lot of dedication, and you need to be willing to never give up. If anyone knows about doing these things, it is recent high school graduate Gehrig Shepler.
As you could probably have guessed, Gehrig was named after Major League Baseball legend Lou Gehrig. In fact, his younger brother – who most know as “Mook” – was also named after a Major League Baseball legend: the great Cy Young.
It goes without saying, then, that Gehrig was born into a sports-loving family. His dad played baseball in college, and both of his parents had high hopes that their children would be involved in sports as well.
When Gehrig was two years old, however, his parents realized that he was walking with a strange gait – with something that very much resembled a limp, in fact. They took him to the doctors, where all sorts of tests were run on him; eventually, the doctors realized what was going on: Gehrig had a mild form of cerebral palsy.
For some parents – and for some young children, for that matter – this would seem to be the end of the dreams of being an athlete at a high level. For Gehrig’s parents, however – and soon, for Gehrig himself – all this really meant was one more obstacle he would have to overcome.
As Gehrig grew older, he not only inherited from his parents their love of sports, but he also inherited their can-do attitude. As a kid, he began going to physical therapy four or five days a week – always for thirty minutes to an hour at a time. Before long, he also began doing his exercises at home. The first thing he would do in the morning was get up and start stretching, in order to loosen up his muscles. He worked far harder than he was told he had to work – chasing the dream that he would be able to lead the sort of life he dreamed of leading: a life in which he was an athlete, playing the sport he loved…a life in which he was a successful pitcher.
In middle school, Gehrig played multiple sports, but by ninth grade he began to focus solely on baseball. His freshman and sophomore years, he played on the junior varsity squad at Union County High School. By his junior year, he had become an integral part of the team’s starting pitching rotation for the varsity squad, and by his senior year he had ascended to the status of the Number One pitcher – on a team, no less, that had a record of 24 wins and only 7 losses, and that contended for the Tri-Eastern Conference title. That’s right – a young man with cerebral palsy, carving out his place as the Number One pitcher on his high school pitching staff.
Who knows what the future will hold for Gehrig, and for his baseball career – but while there are no certainties in sports, there is one thing that can be said for absolute certain: if succeeding at the next level requires hard work, dedication, and a willingness to never give up, Gehrig Shepler is in position to achieve all the success he desires.