AUBURN, Alabama – After breakfast the morning of Auburn’s 2022 College World Series opener, the Tigers turn their attention to a video screen where performance coach Dr. Jason Selk speaks from his home in St. Louis .
A question and a truth, says Selk, who has been providing mental training for Auburn baseball since last November.
“Can Auburn actually win this thing?” he asks. “The answer is absolutely, without a doubt, if you’re right.”
Cutting to the heart of his message less than a minute into his speech, Selk communicates what he calls his only truth.
“You don’t need to improve.”
Referencing a sign in the Tigers clubhouse at Plainsman Park that reads, “Auburn is the mentally toughest team in the country,” Selk reminds Auburn players of the mental workouts they’ve been through over the years. last eight months.
“How many times since November have you refused to back down and stayed in the fight,” he tells them. “It’s somewhat undeniable at this point that you’ve done the job. I would say with great confidence that there’s no question that Auburn baseball is the most mentally tough team in the country, and no one can take you away this no matter what happens in the next few days.”
Auburn’s mental toughness would soon be tested. That night, the Tigers lost their CWS opener to eventual national champion Ole Miss. Two days later, Auburn trailed Stanford 2-0 after five innings before rallying for the Tigers’ 22nd victory of the season, Auburn’s first victory in Omaha. in 25 years.
Selk got his start in the sport before transitioning to coaching in corporate America over the past decade.
When the Auburn head coach Butch Thompson asked his aides last year if they knew anyone who could help the Tigers develop a mental edge, Karl Non-manufacturerat the suggestion of a former teammate, Selk recommended.
“The timing was perfect,” Thompson said. “Half of this team was coming back; half of this team was new. Coming out of Covid, it was just a perfect moment. He put in a few bricks of simplicity.
“He was a consistent message, kept us on theme. We’re about self-confidence and not excuses. We built a consistency routine with a few simple principles, and it unified our ball club.”
Speaking to the Omaha Tigers, Selk shared a personal story about working with his first professional sports team, the St Louis Cardinals, when he was 36 in 2006.
Selk attended Game 4 but was home with his family for Game 5 when the Cardinals won the World Series.
“I looked in the mirror and I remember I felt no joy,” Selk said, reinforcing the lesson he learned.
“If you don’t enjoy it, there’s no point. All the wins in the world don’t matter if you can’t take the moments and enjoy and celebrate along the way.
“It would be stupid to say that [winning] isn’t more fun, but you have to understand: you’re not always going to win. That’s how life works. You have to learn to value the effort you put in.”
Selk challenged the Tigers to “find those moments of joy” and “engrave them in your memories.”
Returning to his one truth that the Tigers were good enough to win it all, Selk referenced former MLB star Scott Rolen, an eight-time Gold Glove winner and seven-time All-Star.
“His advice to these young players was that you don’t become an All-Star by making all-star plays and highlights,” Selk recalled. “You become an All-Star by performing the routine consistently.”
The Cardinals won another World Series in 2011, Selk’s final season with St. Louis. In both league seasons, he said the Cardinals didn’t magically improve in October, based on ERA and batting average.
“What the St. Louis Cardinals have done is they’ve been stable. Some of these teams we were playing against have gotten worse,” Selk said, reiterating his message.
“You’ve proven all year that you can compete with anyone in the country, and you don’t need to improve to compete with them. You don’t need to improve to win this thing. “
Selk then asked the Tigers to write down their answers to the question, “How do you know you can win this thing?” What proof do you have?
As the Auburn players typed their answers into their phones, Selk gave his response: “Twenty-one wins from behind. I love that. My favorite thing about you guys as a team is that you never back down from the fight.”
Selk spent the last few minutes of his 25-minute session on the tools he developed and deployed this season with the Auburn baseball team.
He finished his speech as he had started it. A question. The truth. A take-out dish.
“Do you believe you can actually win this thing?
“You don’t need to improve. You just need to be yourself.
“You have earned the right to enjoy this experience. Live it. Feel the joy of competing at this level.”
Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: @jeff_shearer