Professional baseball player Michael Roth spoke about life's challenges at a benefit for the South Aiken High School Booster Club on Saturday.
Roth, currently in the Los Angeles Angels organization, said it was the challenge of finding his identity that has shaped him into the individual he is today.
While in college, he helped the University of South Carolina to consecutive College World Series titles in 2011 and 2012, limiting the success of opposing hitters and achieving an enviable resume on the baseball diamond.
The athlete shared his insight and experience with an appreciative audience Saturday evening at South Aiken High School as a benefit for the SAHS Booster Club. The event featured a dinner catered by Bobby's BBQ and an autograph session.
Roth challenged the audience to find their identity.
The athlete, who excelled academically as well as on the baseball field, wanted to be known for more than just playing baseball.
The decorated baseball player wanted his legacy to be more about being a well-rounded individual than just having it concentrate on his athletic accomplishments, he said.
The question that loomed for Roth was, “What happens when baseball isn't there anymore?”
It was while attending college that Roth had an epiphany, and the way he defined himself no longer placed its emphasis solely on baseball.
Although he still wanted to be a great baseball player, his abilities to manage his time efficiently and prioritize enabled him to focus on his schoolwork, have a social life and become more involved with the community.
Roth no longer was identifying himself as a baseball player, and his ability to make decisions became easier.
“You can be passionate about one thing or many things,” said Roth. “I'm passionate about baseball. I can describe myself to you in one sentence, and not even use the word baseball.”
It was also an opportunity to share a number of experiences with the audience about his career, what it was like to play for USC coach Ray Tanner, and what it was like to be part of a team's roster that went on to win consecutive College World Series championships.
“I've been very blessed to play at South Carolina,” said Roth. “(And to) play with great teammates, and without those teammates, I wouldn't have been able to accomplish the things I did individually. The opportunity to play with those guys was an outstanding time. I won't forget something like that.”
A legion of Gamecock fans turned out to hear Roth speak, one of them was 12-year-old Sebastian O'Banion, who attends Kennedy Middle School.
“I came here tonight so I could finally meet my favorite Gamecock pitcher,” said O'Banion, a baseball player, who is an outfielder and pitcher.