Injury-Plagued Career Leads Gator To His Dream Job

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Hey Ranch Family,

Corey Stump here.

I’m the Director of Player Development at The Florida Baseball Ranch.

For those of you who don’t know me, with your indulgence, I’d like  introduce myself and tell you a little about my background, my story and a baseball journey that took me down a long and winding road — a road sprinkled with success, joy and a lot of disappointment — and led me to at my dream job at The Florida Baseball Ranch.

The Early Years

I was raised in Lakeland, FL only minutes away from the Ranch. Growing up, baseball was my way of life, and to be honest I was pretty good at it. I cruised through most of my youth career without having to work real hard.  That’s a good thing, because at that time in my life I would have had no idea what to work on or how to do it.

I stumbled into high school as a gangly 6’5” left hander who was still growing into his body.  Athletically there were times it felt like I was as uncoordinated as newborn giraffe but I always had one thing going for me.  I was pretty good at throwing a baseball.

By the middle of my high school years, colleges began to notice me.  I was that tall left hander that seems to attracts the eye of college and pro scouts.  I was labeled extremely “projectable” (whatever that means).  I was still sliding through, dominating local competition with relative ease,  but the summer before my junior year of high school I made a huge leap forward.

After trying out and making an elite travel ball team, I was able to play around some pretty talented players and had the opportunity to play against some great teams.  I was challenged like never before but I soon realized I had the goods to compete on a national scale with some of the best players in the amateur game.

Life-Changing Game

My coming out party, if you will, happened in the sweltering twilight of an October day in Jupiter, FL at the Perfect Game WWBA championship tournament.  I was a 16 year old Junior who hadn’t yet received any significant collegiate offers.  My summer ball team was playing against the runner up of the tournament the from previous year.

I can remember looking up during our pregame routine and noticing that every seat in the stands was taken and the left and right field lines were completely packed with golf carts full of notepad and radar gun wielding college and pro scouts.  I had never seen anything like that before.  The buzz and the excitement was palpable and I could feel my stomach rumble with butterflies.  I was schedule to pitch in relief that night and I hoped one of them would see something they liked in me.  As I took my seat in the bullpen a cold chill of doubt nudged me to question whether I would be able to handle the pressure of the moment.

However, by the third inning I had immersed my will and mind into the heat of the competition.  The opposing team was talented, confident, and extremely mouthy.  By the fourth inning, the battle against a fierce and vocal opponent sparked a fire in me that melted away all the doubt.

When my coach signaled for me to warm up I was locked in and completely committed to one mission — beating their tails. I also remember being intensely pumped to be able to show what I had to all the scouts

When I entered the game I felt like I was on fire.  I came in with runners in scoring position and 1 out.  I topped out at 91 mph, and struck out five batters in a row.  By the 7th inning my team had secured a comfortable lead.  My coach took me out of the game, patted me on the back and said “Son, you just got yourself a lot of scholarship offers tonight.”

Becoming A Gator

That night I spoke for the first time to the head coach of the team I grown up cheering and rooting for, The Florida Gators.  Within a month I was verbally committed and a year later I signed my National Letter of Intent.  When I arrived at the University of Florida in the summer of 2011, I did not know what to expect.  I was ill-prepared both mentally and physically.

Late in the fall of my first collegiate baseball experience, I noticed an unfamiliar pain in my shoulder.  It was a deep, dull ache.  It was tolerable. I could throw through it, so I assumed it was nothing more than a little bit of overuse.  It nagged me for the entire spring and summer.

After a logging a disappointing 3.2 innings my freshman year, I rested my arm all summer and came back to school ready to compete and earn an important role on the pitching staff.  I performed well in a few outings during the fall but soon I started to feel that same dull ache deep in my shoulder. I was shut down for the remainder of the fall. That spring, my velocity slipped steadily downward and the pain got worse. An MRI revealed a SLAP tear in my labrum that required surgery.

To some, that news would have been devastating but I felt a sense of relief.knowing that it really wasn’t in my head… that there really was something physically wrong with me.  If you’ve ever been injured, you understand what I mean.

I had the surgery in late March and started the recovery process. Those days were tough, long, and incredibly boring. I was super excited the first day I was cleared to start my throwing program.

Career Ending Injury

Things were going well until I progressed to the mound.  One day about 15 throws into my routine I felt a pop. There was tingling sensation in my shoulder. I stopped for the day and thought it might of been some scar tissue breaking up and nothing to worry about. Two days later, the pain was excruciating and I couldn’t lift my arm above my head. I got another MRI and discovered that my labrum was torn again.

This time I was devastated.  After the second surgical repair, doctors told me the chances of ever throwing again at a high level were almost zero.  I reluctantly accepted their advice, hung up my cleats and stuffed my glove and my collegiate baseball dreams into a plain cardboard box soiled with stench of failure and disappointment.  I graduated with a degree in Advertising and started my career in medical sales.

New Hope

Life was different without baseball.  I got into coaching but there was always something missing.  The sense of unfinished business gnawed at my gut.  I felt the itch that I was not done.  I had always loved the feeling of the ball coming out of my hand and I wanted to throw again.  I was not willing to let my career end on the current terms.

That’s when I called Randy Sullivan at The Florida Baseball Ranch.  I remember his words exactly, “Man why don’t we try this?  I can’t promise you you’re going to make it back, but we won’t know if we don’t try.”

So I went all in. I quit my job and trained full time at the ranch.  At first it didn’t go well.  There were some tough days.  There were times when I wanted to quit.  Then, one day it all changed.  I reach a critical shift in my mindset.  I was having a terrible day on the mound.  The pain was still there and my velo was down.  As I hung my head in self-pity, a fellow Ranch student walked by.   He was a16 year old lefty who on his best day couldn’t even reach my lowest post injury velo.  Emblazoned on the back of his FBR t-shirt I saw the Ranch motto, “Relentless Pursuit”.  Despite his obvious lack of raw ability, he went about his work with an air of joy, excitement and energy.  “Darn right,” I thought.  “If he can do it, I can too.”

During my entire rehab process, Randy consistently told me, “Just trust your body.  Listen to your arm.  The human body is capable of some amazing stuff.  You are capable of so much more than you believe and as long as you don’t give up, you have a chance.”  This time it finally sunk in.  I had a new sense of motivation and thought to myself, “Why not me?  Why can’t I be the guy to make it back and play again?”

It was 3 months before I could throw a baseball without pain and it took 6 months for me to get back to 90 mph but it was so worth it.

I petitioned the NAIA for an additional medical redshirt year and gained an opportunity to start graduate school, and play baseball at Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida.  It was a fantastic year.  I was able to play for some wonderful coaches on a fun, cohesive team that won over 50 games and advanced to within an out of the NAIA world series.  I earned my first collegiate win at the ripe age of 24. I fulfilled my dream of playing and more importantly I showed myself and others that it was possible to overcome seemingly insurmountable injuries and once again  perform at a high level.  None of this would of been possible without Randy and the help of the Florida Baseball Ranch®. To the ranch, I owe a deep and sincere debt of gratitude.

A New Career… Paying It Forward

After the one year at SEU, Randy asked me if I would help him run the Ranch’s Complete Game  Summer Training Program. To me, it was a no brainer.  I loved this place and I could think of no better way to “pay forward” the blessings I had been afforded.  After a very successful summer, Randy and Amy asked me to join as full-time member of the Ranch team.  I was honored to accept.

Now, every day I have the opportunity to give back to the game and to the Ranch by helping young hopefuls find a path toward everything they want to achieve.  With the help of The Florida Baseball Ranch®, I was able to fulfill my dreams and that journey led to an unbridled passion for teaching.

I hope that by sharing my story and my experiences I can encourage some of you to learn more about the Ranch. This place really changed my life, and it changes the lives of people every day.

I look forward to seeing you at the ranch, so together we can write an even better story for you

See you at The Ranch,

Corey Stump

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