NEWBERRY — Michael Roth plays baseball — he’s a pitcher for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim — but does not let it define who he is.
Roth, a former University of South Carolina pitcher, spoke to Newberry College student athletes Tuesday night at Wiles Chapel about pursuing greatness and dodging the negative connotations of being great.
The inspirational athletic event was a part of the NCAA Division 2 Life in the Balance series.
Roth delivered a speech about what greatness is not and then what it is to the packed chapel of student athletes.
“There are three things that greatness is not,” Roth said. “Greatness is not about perfection. Greatness is also not about being selfish. It’s about accomplishing something. It has a negative connotation. If you look it up online, it’s a state of superiority.
“It’s not selfish to want to be great,” he added. “Wanting to achieve things is not selfish.”
Lastly, “greatness is not easy. We are going to fail in our everyday lives,” Roth stated.
Roth recounts how he’s achieved greatness on a minor scale with winning the CWS twice among those minor things. That goes along with how Roth doesn’t want baseball to define him.
While Roth admits to achieving these things, he also said that he’s had plenty of not-so-great moments.
“I’ve failed so much and it was not easy,” said Roth.
“What is greatness?”
“Greatness is knowing where you’re going. You have to know where you’re going. For me, it’s to the top, to change someone’s life,” said Roth.
He segued from direction to goals and resolutions implying that goals are necessary for some sort of direction in life.
He asked the audience about New Year’s resolutions. While relatively few students admitted to setting New Year goals, a few hands went up. One guy told of his goal of running a race in which Roth exclaimed how impressed he was. While the topic was serious, Roth still threw in plenty of comedic commentary to keep the students’ attention.
He then asked, “How do you measure goals?” and responded with “You’ve got to set goals that are measurable.”
For instance, if a goal is about eating healthier, make seven out of 10 meals healthy per week, Roth said.
Measuring goals can help someone become better and thus find their identity which is what Roth can testify to.
“How will you define yourself without lacrosse, baseball in the picture,” he asked. “You have to do common things uncommonly well. Look up greatness in the dictionary, you’ll see uncommon. Also, managing your time is important. Managing your time is one of those things that you have to do uncommonly well.”
Roth explained that it’s important to find a way to make the uncommon duties in everyday life fun. For example, he joked that while cleaning up or doing laundry, he’ll put on some Justin Bieber.
Moving into a more serious mode, Roth encouraged the students to stay ahead of the curve and just when they think they’ve made it, it’s not over and there is a constant learning cycle from the yesterdays.
A couple of Newberry College athletic leaders also spoke briefly to the student athletes about the Life in the Balance series and Roth.
Matt Finley, Newberry College’s director of athletics, encouraged the athletes to managed and balance time on and off the field.
“If you balance your life off the field, you’ll find a way to win on the field,” said Matt Finley, Newberry College director of athletics.
Jack Easterby, Newberry College’s association athletic director for operations, introduced Roth and also encouraged the student athletes to strive higher and not settle for mediocre.
“We have a ceiling where we think we can go. In reality, that ceiling can be moved and maximized with work ethics (etc.),” said Easterby.
“(Roth) embodied success as a student athlete. He’s fought temptations and challenges,” Easterby continued while telling the students that in addition to being part of a two-time College World Series national championship, he also excelled by carrying a high grade point average as an international business student at the University of South Carolina.
Despite what Roth is known for in the baseball world, he will not let the sport define who he is and encouraged the student athletes to not just be an athlete.