GROWING FROM FAILURE

Ben Nemivant

This series is brought to you by United Dairy Industry of Michigan.

It’s been said that there is only one guarantee in the sport of baseball: failure. Ben Nemivant, a fifth-year player and graduate student for University of the Pacific’s baseball team, learned this lesson early in his career as a college freshman.

“I was making my first couple of starts in the outfield, and we were ahead late in the game,” said Nemivant.

“There was a fly ball hit my way, and I completely missed it. All the runners that were on base ended up scoring, and we went on to lose the game because of me. I cried myself to sleep in the hotel after the game.”

This would be a difficult situation for any player to go through. The fact that Nemivant was a freshman made it that much tougher.

“Mistakes happen, especially in baseball when errors are a part of the game,” said Nemivant. “You understand that as you get older, but as a young 18-year-old kid, it was as if my world had ended.”

While it was an excruciatingly painful lesson to learn as a young player, he’s glad this blunder in the outfield occurred, as it was a critical part of his development and growth as a player.

As one of the top hitters currently in the West Coast Conference — and the entire country this 2023 season — it’s evident his failures, perhaps even more than his successes, have molded him into the player he is today.

Consistency pays off

Hitting a baseball is one of the most challenging tasks in all of sports, which has never gone unnoticed by Nemivant. He knew he had to practice and work on his hitting as often as he could if he wanted to take his game to the highest level.

“I’ve always been undersized and never had the ideal body type,” said Nemivant. “But I knew if I could hit, no matter how small I was, there’d be a place for me in this game.”

Nemivant credits his dad as a significant role in his baseball career. The two would work daily on improving his hitting to help him realize his aspirations of playing baseball at the DI level.

“My dad has been a major influence in my baseball career,” said Nemivant. “Throughout high school, we’d go to the batting cages every single day.”

“We’d usually only be there for 20 or 30 minutes, but it was that daily consistency that was key. That dedication and focus helped develop me into a player that could succeed at the next level.”

As a high school kid, it wasn’t unusual for him to want to be anywhere but the batting cages at times, but his hard work and consistency paid off in a major way when he started to receive DI offers.

Mistakes happen, especially in baseball when errors are a part of the game. You understand that as you get older, but as a young 18-year-old kid, it was as if my world had ended.

Accept your mistakes

Nemivant accepted a baseball scholarship at Pacific, knowing he’d have a strong chance to play immediately as a freshman. As excited as he was to take the field, he would have to overcome some mental blocks first.

“My freshman year was really tricky,” said Nemivant. “I struggled to even have fun on the field because I was so focused on my stats and placing impossible expectations on myself.”

“In high school, I was one of the top players on the team. But when I got to Pacific and the DI level, I quickly realized how much talent I was surrounded by. It was a tough adjustment, to say the least.”

While the transition from high school to the DI level is difficult for almost every student-athlete, Nemivant feels he had a distinct advantage playing at Pacific, as they allowed him to grow and develop as a player.

“Pacific gave me so many opportunities to learn from my mistakes and failures, and I don’t think I would’ve been given those opportunities at too many schools,” said Nemivant.

“Especially in my first few seasons, I began to accept failure as part of my growth. I have to give credit to Pacific for helping me realize that. I’m a better player because of it.”

There isn’t anything particularly fun about failure, but it plays an integral role in how we grow and learn from our mistakes. It’s equally important to not let your mistakes and failures consume you, which Nemivant grew to understand after he misplayed that fly ball early in his freshman season.

“My coaches certainly gave me an earful after that play, and they had every right to,” said Nemivant. “But they also did a great job in building my confidence up afterward.”

“They helped me change my perspective to understand that your mistakes don’t define you. Accept them and grow from them, but don’t dwell on them.”

Continuing to learn and grow

Heading into his fifth season, Nemivant set out to concentrate less on his individual statistics and focus more on having fun on the field, especially with it being his final season.

This freeing mindset has done wonders, as he’s put together the best season of his career and ranks near the top of the conference in hitting categories.

“I’m aware of some of my numbers, but I try not to get too caught up in them,” said Nemivant. “There’s no need to put that added pressure on myself. At this point in my career, I’m confident in my abilities on the field, so I believe the stats and numbers will take care of themselves.”

He’s having such a special season, in fact, that the MLB draft remains a possibility for him upon graduation from Pacific.

“I definitely think the draft is an option for me at this point,” said Nemivant. “It’s not something I necessarily expected, but when you continue to grow as a player and surround yourself with the right people, you never know what can happen.”

But even if he doesn’t get drafted, Nemivant has plenty of career choices. He is a business administration major with a finance concentration — a field he is very passionate about.

Wherever Nemivant’s future takes him – on or off the baseball field – he will continue to strive for excellence and put his best foot forward.

For every ball that is scorched into the gap for a stand-up double, there is a misplayed fly ball to learn from and grow.